Cultural Center of the Philippines
June 1, 2013
The Eagles Have Not Landed
I was having a dinner date with my wife and chewing this delicious squid ball when I received this news: Ateneo has pulled out of the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup. I was so shocked by the news that I almost coughed it out back into the oven-hot caserole. But I held my calm, my squid ball and slowly chewed it to pieces and gulped down straight to my gut with help of this ice-cold Coke Zero.
Then I told my wife to read the story again and, lo and behold, Ateneo has indeed opted to pull out from all pre-season tournaments it is currently participating including this one that gathered the best from both the UAAP and NCAA as well as Cebu.
No less than Ateneo team manager Paolo Trillo came out as the harbinger of bad news citing injuries to several of its key players. Trillo was referring to Gboy Babilonia (hurting shoulder), JP Erram (MCL), Gwynne Capacio (pulled hamstring), Von Pessumal (finger injury) and Kris Porter (knee injury) as the injured players.
I called Ateneo athletic director and UAAP board representative Ricky Palou and confirmed to Sportsmaryosep that Ateneo has indeed withdrawn.
“Yes it’s true,” says Palou.
Intriguingly, Trillo, younger brother of newly-crowned Alaska Milk team coach Luigi, broke the news right after the Eagles trimmed the La Salle Archers, their bitterest of rivals, to pieces with a 78-70 victory at The Arena in San Juan City. Super Kiefer Ravena led the Jesuit-ran school by dropping a 31-point bomb on the Archers that turned out to be Ravena’s farewell game in the Premier Cup this year.
Ateneo coach Bo Perasol said they can’t afford to play just 10 players and risk the healthy ones to injuries also.
Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup organizers tried to convince Ateneo to reconsider by allowing the Loyola-based dribblers to insert five of their players from their second team and replace the injured ones. But Ateneo said no.
Debbie Tan, the amiable Ateneo booster and part of its management team who happens to work for Smart , explained it best.
“Fil-Oil told us we could add 5 players from Team B but that doesn’t help us. It’s not a matter of replacing the injured players but minimising the risk of injury to the others,” Tan says as a comment to my bud Rick Olivares’ shoutout in Facebook.
She explains it further on Twitter using her account @Ninangdeb as response to my earlier Tweet that goes like this: “I respect Ateneo’s decision to pull out. But for the record, I disagree with it. If injured, put on a replacement. Not withdraw. #FiloilCup”
Tan, who follows Sportsmaryosep, has this for an answer: “who will we replace our team with? Will Filoil accept our Team B? At least this way, another team gets the opportunity.”
I disagree, yes. But Tan has a point there.
Spin.ph reports that long-time Ateneo patron Manny V. Pangilinan has shown his support to Ateneo’s decision, shocking it may be.
“I just knew about it (decision) today,” MVP, as Pangilinan is widely called, tells Spin.ph. “But I think mukhang tama lang na mag-pull out. They need to rest, they just came from a very strenuous training in Vegas, and in Japan they played everyday.”
Anyway, Ateneo’s loss is Letran’s gain as the latter assumed the position the former left after finishing fifth in Group B. UE moves from No. 2 to No. 1, La Salle to No. 2 from No. 3 and Santo Tomas from No. 4 to No. 3. Group A, of course, stays the same with National U, Arellano U, San Beda and Adamson. For those asking, the quarterfinal matches pit Arellano U against UST at 2 p.m. and UE vs Adamson at 4 p.m. on Monday and NU against Letran at 2 p.m. and La Salle versus San Beda at 4 p.m. on Wednesday both at The Arena in San Juan.
Again, I disagree with the decision but I respect it. Because after all, the UAAP is the destination and the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup is just one of the paths to it.
But there are two things that got into my mind after the Ateneo pull out.
One, there is a slight resemblance to Ateneo’s move to what University of the East did in the University Games in October last year in Bacolod City. The Warriors beat the Eagles in the semis to barge into the finals. UE pulled out because of a previous commitment in Taiwan. Yes, our BFF Taiwan. The Recto-based school, as it turned out, didn’t expect to make it that far in the tournament so its hand was forced. The UniGames, in response, stripped UE of second place and awarded it to Ateneo, which won its consolation duel with Adamson. NU won the title on a silver platter.
The second and last but not the least is San Beda’s sensational win over Arellano U in its first game of last NCAA season. You see, the Lions played with only six players, most of whom are rookies and sophomores as the rest of the team served out the suspension slapped on them for figuring in a fight the year before. Of course, San Beda won it and the players won were part of that historic, unforgettable moment were came to be known as The Super Six.
I was hoping the Eagles could do No. 2.
But it was just not meant to be so we all have to live with it and respect what has been done already. But in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup, the Eagles have NOT landed.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
(Photos courtesy of Filoil Flying V)