(Photo credit: Jamil Buergo/ Sports Gateway PH)
Thirdy Ravena sat and reflected on how things could’ve been.
As Game One of the Finals of UAAP Season 79 ended with the De La Salle Green Archers emerging victorious over the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles, a disappointed Ravena aired out his thoughts in an almost-empty Mall of Asia Arena press room.
“Sayang ‘yung laro kasi we had a bad start,” he said.
The Blue Eagles, after shocking most of the UAAP by reaching the Finals on a six game winning streak and eliminating the defending champions FEU Tamaraws in the semis, could’ve been expected to start Game One invigorated right off the gate. Instead, Ateneo played, from a spectator’s point of view, like a team that was just contented on reaching the finals while La Salle played as if they wanted to win the title as early in Game One. Ateneo started the game down 16-2 and ended the first quarter scoring only six points– the lowest recorded score in the first quarter of the finals since 2003.
“Actually, ako ‘di ko rin alam kung ano nangyari pero I guess it was just na-intimidate (kami) siguro sa press ng La Salle,” he said. “It was good na nakahabol kami pero sayang din yung start. It was eight minutes na naka 16-2 run sila. We could’ve avoided that pero wala.”
Despite also getting advice from big brother Kiefer, the younger Ravena says that he was overwhelmed. “Ang sinabi niya lang sakin galingan ko lang mamaya, wag lang ako ma-overwhelm, just enjoy the game,” the athletic wing said. “Mali ‘yung ginawa ko. Na-overwhelm ako masyado dun sa laro.”
Ravena finished with, for his standards, a mediocre eight points, four rebounds and three assists to go along with six turnovers– the most of any player in the game.
The Blue Eagles crawled back in the second half though and Ravena had the ball in his hands in the final moments of the game and tried to bring Ateneo the lead but didn’t result to something good.
“I think I have no excuse for what I did. It was a very bad mental mistake on my part. Matt ((Nieto) just made a foul counted shot, we should’ve given him the ball. But I have no excuse for that.”
“I don’t want to use it as an excuse pero feel ko it’s maybe because we’re young. ‘Di kami sanay na ganito kalaking laro ‘yung nilalaro namin. Not everyone in the team has played in this gravity of a game so it was just a bad start.”
Even with them one game away from losing the title to the Green Archers though, don’t expect the Blue Eagles to fold just yet. Expect them to continue to display the grit and heart they showed the whole season and in their almost comeback against La Salle.
“We fought just like what we do every single game. We fight even though things may not seem okay because of the start namin pero we just tried to play with our hearts and not let the gravity of the game intimidate us.”
We’ve been doing it the entire season. Not everyone really expected us to reach this pero ‘yun lang ginawa namin lumaban lang talaga kami. Tapos binigay lang talaga namin yung sarili namin apra sa mga teammates namin and siguro na-pressure lang talaga sa laro. It’s not yet over, I think na kaya namin makipag-compete sa La Salle,” Ravena said.
“We’ll bounce back next game. We’ll play hopefully without a bad start.”