Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ateneo Blue Eagles Captures Three Peat

Ateneo seizes its third consecutive UAAP Championship title.

On the spotlight before reporters at the Araneta Coliseum press room, Ryan Buenafe looked at his shirt that said "Ateneo Three-Peat Champions."

"Para akong nananaginip," Buenafe told teammate Erik Salamat.

"Ako rin," the latter couldn't agree more.

The burly Buenafe struck hard when it mattered most to push Ateneo de Manila University to a 65 - 62 nipping of top seed Far Eastern University and the Blue Eagles' third straight UAAP men's basketball crown Thursday afternoon before 17, 215 fans at the Big Dome.

The six-foot-two junior, who was awarded the UAAP Season 73 Finals MVP, capped his sterling performance with a three-pointer with 22.1 seconds remaining that gave Ateneo its biggest lead, 61 - 56, to finally put away the Tamaraws, who led much of the game before losing steam in the homestretch.

"This is the hardest championship we've won in the last three years," an ecstatic Coach Norman Black said.

True enough, the Eagles did it the harder way this time, climbing from an 11-point deficit early in the first half to become only the fourth team in league history to accomplish a three-peat.

Other UAAP member schools that accomplished the rare feat include the University of the East Warriors (under coach Baby Dalupan), the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigers (under coach Aric del Rosario), the champions' archrival De La Salle University Green Archers (under coach Franz Pumaren), and the Far Eastern University Tamaraws (under coaches Koy Banal and Bert Flores).

The Tamaraws had chances to send the series into a Game 3 clincher but missed four free-throws in the end game, including two that could have tied the game with under a minute remaining.

Likewise, the Morayta-based five had to slug it out with the more experienced Eagles without Coach Glenn Capacio, whose blood pressure shot up late in the second canto and was rushed to the Medical City in Pasig City for tests.

Buenafe led all scorers with a season-best 23 points and six boards on eight-of-12 shooting while pint-sized playmaker was all over the court and finished with 10 points, five boards and three assists.

Meanwhile, season MVP Ryan Roose Garcia and Rookie of the Year Terrence Romeo were non-factors in FEU's most important game of the season, tallying a measly combined output of eight points on a horrible four-of-17 from the field.

Forward Reil Cervantes and the graduating Paul Sanga tried to carry the Tamaraws on their back with 15 and 13 markers, respectively, but had little help as FEU ended another disappointing season with a loss.


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