By Franco Rimando II
Rivalry day, part 2.
It was a cloudy day at the SM Arena last night but fans flocked to the MOA Arena stands as our De La Salle Green Archers faced their arch-rivals from Katipunan, the Ateneo Blue Eagles. However, instead of the usual sea of green and blue, a very unusual color for the UAAP was dominant – a sea of pink that stretched from end-to-end, with only occasional patches of green and blue. Now, I have some reservations about mixing the UAAP with a political exercise, but for what it’s worth, it was sight to see how rivals can unite for a “common” goal.
UNITY is a theme that the UAAP has been espousing since its establishment, and indeed it was highlighted in yesterday’s exercise. However, the exercise of Unity may have limitations, especially when it starts to cross the line with tolerance. Yesterday, as I was entering the Arena, we were asked to present a series of documents to prove that we are following minimum IATF ruling and it was an exercise welcomed by everyone. In a sense, the whole UAAP was united in accepting protocols about vaccination. So the question now is, was everyone in the Arena yesterday really fully vaccinated?
7pm! Game time! Despite the different color, the same cheers reverberated throughout the Arena!
The Archers tried to control the opening tip but the Blue Eagles drew first blood. Defensive pressure was felt on both ends with the Archer trailing most of the time till the 5:01 mark of the 1st period where Evan Nelle sank a 2 point basket on a Joaqui Manuel assist, tying the game for the first time at 15-all. The Archers then continued to battle it out, and led by 1 as Michael Phillips split his charities with 2:34 minutes left in the 1st period. Archers were on an 8-2 run, and it was a sight to see the crowd cheer in support of the Archers however, the run was cut short as the Blue Eagles had an answer near the closing bell of the 1st period with Archers trailing by 3, 21-18.
In the 2nd quarter, the same energy was felt from our beloved Archers, with Kurt Lojera registering 8 points during the period. The highlight during the quarter was a 5-point stretch on a 3 by Nelle and a baseline short jumper by Lojera that allowed the Archers to lead by 2 points with 6:34 left at the clock. The Archers’ pressure defense continue to be showcased as the Blue Eagles were forced into a series of turnovers. However, the Archers weren’t able to capitalize on the errors. The quarter ended with the score differential the same, Archers trailing by 3 – 35-32.
At the start of the 3rd period the Archers were able to inch closer the 3-point gap to 1. However, a series of whistles blown our way forced the Archers to hold back on being aggressive on the defensive side. The calls led to the Archers being handicapped by team foul trouble with 7 minutes left on the period. This led to a sizeable deficit in quick order as the Archers found themselves trailing by as many as 17 points (the most in the game). It seemed like a repeat of the 1st round battle would be repeated, but much to the enjoyment of the Archer fan in me, the Archers didn’t give up. The Taft-based squad, though struggling, continue to battle, narrowing the gap to 60-47at the end of the 3rd.
In the last quarter, the Animo was evident! The Archers once again went down by 17 points, but with the continued effort of our squad, led by Lojera who registered 10 of his 21 points during the period, the Archers were able to pull the lead down to 7 by the closing bell. Worth noting during the game was how the Archers were able to go-to-toe against our rivals but just fell short. The team indeed still has room for improvement but the tenacity that was seen yesterday, especially at the closing buzzer was enough for it to be considered as a character building game.
The Archers logged their 3rd loss the season while the Eagles remain undefeated. Up next is the UST Growling Tigers who just defeated their neighbor from Recto, the UE warriors.
Animo La Salle!