The UAAP Season 80 Review: A Year Filled with Surprises and Drama

Nevertheless, it has been a season for the books

La Salle vs Ateneo
This season’s Men’s Basketball Tournament is more than just about the Ateneo-La Salle Rivalry.
Over the past seasons, the Men’s Basketball tournament of the UAAP has been one of the country’s most exciting basketball leagues and mind you, folks. The UAAP is more than just about the fierce rivalry between the Ateneo de Manila Bule Eagles and the De La Salle Green Archers. And Season 80 is no different at all.

For those who were probably stuck in their studies all while the basketball wars were happening, below are just some of the stories which this pundit on wheels thinks has made 2017 memorable for the UAAP fans:

Surprise!

One of the teams that made the most impact this year was the UP Fighting Maroons. And nobody expected them to win. Especially not against a powerhouse team like the Green Archers whom they beat surprisingly by a big margin. They did by shutting down the rest of the Archers as Ben Mbala was almost impossible to stop. And it worked. Throughout the entire season, Paul Desiderio hit numerous game-winning treys. Unfortunately, UP came short of making it to the Final 4 but given the fact they were able to beat La Salle, it’s only a matter of time until UP becomes a Final 4-bound team.

Ateneo’s Redemption Season

After losing in the Finals last season against Jeron Teng and company, the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles wasted no time as they began the season by winning the first 13 games only to lose on the 14th against their archrivals. Then, their backs were forced onto the wall as the Far Eastern University Tamaraws forced a sudden-death match against the number one team. Fortunately, Isaac Go redeemed himself as he nailed two clutch baskets- one that forced overtime and the other one that sealed the win for the Eagles.
In the Finals against La Salle, Isaac Go was the hero of the series as he completed a 3-point play during the dying seconds of Game 1, allowing Ateneo to take Game 1. And when La Salle was threatening for the last time in a classic Game 3, Isaac Go received a pass from Thirdy Ravena and calmly drained a three-pointer to ice things up. Victory. Redemption. George Isaac Go.

La Salle’s Drama

Losing in the Finals against the Blue Eagles was definitely a bitter pill to swallow for the Archers. After all, they were the only ones who beat the Eagles during the elimination rounds.  And they came a defensive stop away from winning a second consecutive championship. They fell short. Tears were shred. Congratulatory and consoling hugs were exchanged. In the end, La Salle lost it all. And the drama was just getting started back then.
Coach Aldin Ayo said after the Finals series that 2-time MVP Ben Mbala still has one season of eligibility with the Green Archers. Then, Mbala said he has enough of the issues surrounding his eligibility owing to the reinstatement of the “seven years out of high school” rule by the UAAP. Mbala has taken his talents to Mexico after saying that he won’t waste a year doing nothing. In a snap, things went gloomier for La Salle.
Throughout the latter part of the season, Aldin Ayo’s name has been connected to the UST coaching job. Many speculated that Ayo’s former connections from the Letran Knights were pushing for him to transfer from Taft to Espana. At first, Ayo denied the rumors, saying that his commitment was with La Salle. WAS. After a few weeks, Aldin Ayo parted ways with the Green Archers- taking with him his coaching staff. Is Aldin Ayo really headed to Espana? We’ll all have to wait. 

Conclusion

Now that the season is over in the Men’s division, there are a few questions that need answers come Season 81. Will Ateneo repeat? Possibly. Who will take over from Ayo in La Salle? Nobody knows. For now. Will the Fighting Maroons ever make it back to the Final 4? That’s up for a debate. Nevertheless, it has been a pleasant season in general- except if you’re a fan of the UST Growling Tigers. 

A Wheeler’s Opinion: Will the Blue Eagles Recover?

Or will the Tamaraws bury Ateneo’s 13-1 season for good?

Can FEU prevent another Ateneo-La Salle Dream Finals?
The Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles had a chance to go straight to the Finals had they swept the elimination rounds. They failed to do so. They also had the chance to go to the Finals during their first Final 4 match-up against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws. And yet, they failed. Horribly. Now? The Tamaraws have the one chance to do something unique: eliminate an Ateneo team that swept the season’s first 13 games before losing to the De La Salle Green Archers in their final game.
The question is:  Can the wards of Olsen Racela finally overcome the twice-to-beat disadvantage?
The answer is:  Yes.
If you look back at how FEU defended Ateneo in the first game, Ateneo did make 10 shots from three but missed 22 shots. All in all, the Blue Eagles shot 36% from the field and that was one of the things that lost them the game.
Another thing that enabled FEU to forge a sudden-death match later was the notable contributions from Arvin Tolentino and Hubert Cani- both used to play for Ateneo before transferring to FEU. Tolentino, a Rookie of the Year awardee, scored 13 points while Cani provided the additional firepower off the bench to score 11 points. If anything, both former Eagles caused the biggest problems for Tab Baldwin and they will be a problem anew should Ateneo fails to defend later.

https://lap.lazada.com/banner/dynamic.php?banner_id=59f0ae0936ec7&theme=2&p=3

The question now for the Blue and White: Can they recover from their 2-game losing streak?
The answer is: Yes. Assuming they go back to how they won the season’s first 13 games- by scoring more and shooting more efficiently.

Don’t Count Ateneo Out. Just Yet.

After FEU handed out Ateneo its second consecutive defeat last Sunday on an 80-67 victory, some people were saying that Ateneo has already lost their killer instinct. While this may be true, we shouldn’t be throwing Ateneo out of the picture. Just yet. Why? 
Sure, Thirdy Ravena and company shot mostly bricks during the first game but once the shots start to drop for Anton Asistio and the rest of the shooters, they will be hard to stop. The key for Ateneo is really simple: Take as many open shots as you can. Build up confidence as they say.
For FEU, defense is an important key to beating an offense-oriented team like the Blue Eagles. 

Conclusion

Ateneo fans can only hope that their team will rediscover how good their team was during their 13-game winning streak. Why? It will help them win later. And it will help them against La Salle in the Finals- should both teams meet again.

FEU forces do-or-die game versus Ateneo with a 80-67 win.

The fourth-seeded Far Eastern University Tamaraw showed their composure by beating the top-seeded Ateneo Blue Eagles 80-67 on their UAAP Season 80 Semifinals match-up at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 
Ron Dennison led the Tamaraws with 17 points and 8 rebounds. 
Blue Eagles have the edge coming in the Semifinals Round  with a twice to beat advantage. But the Tamaraw forces a do-or-die game on Wednesday 4:00PM at Mall of Asia Arena.

Boxscore:

FEU Tamaraws 80 – Dennison 17, Tolentino 13, Cani 11, Orizu 10, Escoto 9, Inigo 8, Trinidad 5, Parker 4, Ebona 3, Comboy 0, Bayquin 0, Ramirez 0, Stockton 0, Tuffin 0.

ADMU Blue Eagles 67 – Ravena 17, Mi. Nieto 13, Ma. Nieto 11, Go 9, Tolentino 5, Mendoza 4, Asistio 3, Tio 3, Verano 2, Ikeh 0, Black 0, Mamuyac 0, Mallillin 0.

Quarters: 21-15, 38-35, 59-48, 80-67.

Ben Mbala to Miss Highly Anticipated Game Against FEU to Play for FIBA Afrobasket

The defending UAAP Mens Basketball Champions De La Salle Green Archers will play against Far Eastern University Tamaraws without their Cameroon star player Ben Mbala on September 10 2017. Mbala is in Brazil for Cameroon’s training camp in preparation for FIBA Afrobasket.
The game between the Green Archers and Tamaraws will be highly anticipated game coming off a heated brawl of the two teams in Davao.
Mbala is the reigning UAAP MVP averaging 20 points and 16 rebounds per game last season.
FIBA Afrobasket will run from September 8 – 16. 
Mbala will also miss the game on September 16 against the National University Bulldogs. 

FEU dominates inside as they hold down the Soaring Falcons

Richard Escoto, Axel Iñigo and Kimlee Bayquin pushed FEU to their 1st win of the season against ADU Falcons. They all scored their career highs in points, 13 each for Escoto and Iñigo while 9 points for Bayquin.

FEU also avoid a 0-2 start which they last tasted in the Arwind Santos era of the team.
They dominates the inside game specially the rebounding. A desparity of 19 rebounds is too much for any team and not suprisingly, ADU lost the game, 75 to 65.
The usual suspect for ADU, Ahanmisi, Manalang and Manganti was unable to had a good groove this time.
After scoring 104 points in their first game, ADU only scored a total of 65 points.

Box Score:
FEU: 75 – Iñigo 13, Escoto 13, Jose 11, Bayquin 9, Arong 7, Holmqvist, Orizu 3, Nunag 3, Tuffin 3, Dennison 2, Trinidad 2, Comboy 2, Bienes 2, Ebona 0, Denila 0.

AdU: 65 – Ahanmisi 19, Sarr 11, Mustre 10, Manalang 8, Manganti 6, Espeleta 4, Camacho 3, Ochea 2, Pasturan 2, Bernardo 0, Ng 0, Tungcab 0.

Quarter Scoring: 13 – 14, 32 – 28, 53 – 45, 75 – 65

UAAP Season 79: FEU Green Tamaraws Roster

Here is the lineup of the FEU Tamaraws men’s basketball team for UAAP Season 79:
PLAYER (PLAYING YEAR)
Monbert Arong (5)
Kimlee Bayquin (1)
Wendelino Comboy (2) 
Augus Denila (2)
Ron Dennison (4)
Kevin Eboña (2)
Richard Escoto (3)
Ken Holmqvist (2)
Alejandrino Iñigo (3)
Raymar Jose (5)
Gerald Nunag (1)
Prince Orizu (2)
Stephen Roxas (1)
Joe Trinidad (4)
Kenneth Tuffin (1)
HEAD COACH: Nash Racela