One of the many things that I will sorely miss in the Ateneo once I graduate is the hype and intensity of the crowd every UAAP season. I think it is pretty much obvious that our school is a big basketball fanatic and we put more attention to it and its players more than the other sports. It is a bit biased, yes. But coming from a country whose most popular sport is basketball, it is not much of a wonder anymore.
Ateneo vs La Salle: semi-finals (September 29, 2012)
Given my workload for this semester, I have totally given up my hopes on watching a live basketball game , let alone watch an Ateneo-La Salle game, which is a must if you are an Atenean (and you kinda won’t get why if you don’t study in either university). To prove how tough the rivalry is, my LS professor, who is a true-blue Atenean and basketball afficionado, said that there was a time where scalpers sold Patron tickets for an Ateneo-La Salle finals game for 75,000 php. Each. And people actually bought them. Talk about being dirty rich.
Well I was actually ready to scratch it off my bucket list and forget that I ever wrote it down when my friend, who has his means of getting tickets without lining up early, offered us tickets to the ADMU-DLSU game in upper B seats at the big dome. I was shocked and thankful at the same time. And heck, I was ready to put one Saturday off despite the threatening signs of a hell week next week. It was an answered prayer.
This was the only shot that I was able to take because my phone went dead during the third quarter. The Blue Babble Battalion just spelled BLUE amidst the sea of green. I think I will forever regret not being able to fulfill my cheerleading dream. Hay. In another life, maybe?
My forever game buddy! Hi Sarah! :) Too bad Gabby wasn’t here. He was the one who gave us tickets. Thanks Gab! Anyway, Ateneo won over La Salle and the Ateneo crowd’s roar, jeers, and cheers dominated the Araneta Coliseum. It was a nice and well-played game and I screamed my lungs out and heart out all through out. We almost lost. Good thing Ravena managed to turn the game upside down by scoring 12 points straight for the team. Someone said that he didn’t want to have a Game 2 anymore because he has Econ long test next week. Hah. I wonder if that’s true.
Then came the Song for Mary. I’m a bit ashamed that I haven’t memorized it by heart and I was just guessing half of the lyrics of our Alma Mater song. It sounded nice and solemn and I couldn’t be more willing to raise my fist in the air in honor of our university and of Mary (whom the Jesuit community extremely looks up to). I remember waking up with a sore throat but meh, I regret nothing. The Ateneo-La Salle rivalry, especially in basketball, is really something to look forward to. And I’m thankful that I was able to witness such a heart-stopping event despite the upcoming hell weeks!
Ateneo vs UST: Finals Game 1 (October 6, 2012)
When my friend told me that the first game of the finals will be held in MOA, I signed up for an account in smtickets.com. They usually sell tickets online whenever games are held there and there is no limit as to the number of tickets you can buy. But for some unlucky reason, they decided to put on hold the online ticket selling and followed the “traditional” way of getting tickets – waking up REALLY early and lining up for your life.
But then the gods and goddesses of luck have favored me again because Gabby was able to get tickets for us (again). On top of that, I accidentally found additional two upper B tickets under the table of a diner. Haha! That all happened on a Friday night, the day before the game, while I was having a couple of beers with my high school girl friends.
I remembered Bianca’s face when I showed her the tickets I found. I wasn’t sure that time if they were legit tickets since I was already in a happy place that time. I shoved them up to her face and asked, “tickets ba to o nahihilo lang ako?” And then she said they really were tickets to the game. Lucky, eh? So there I was, holding three precious tickets, while the others who bothered waking up early and lining up in MOA or in school only got (at most) two.
First person I thought of giving the first ticket is Trisha. Since Mai and Sarah already have their own, I decided to give her one to complete the gang. The other ticket, I planned on giving to my sister.
But she refused; she said she had to review. Meh. So I went after the second person I have in mind, Miguel. But he wasn’t replying to my texts, nor was he answering my calls. The news that I have a spare ticket have already reached the ears (and eyes) of my blockmates and Atenean friends and they were calling and texting and asking me if they could bid for it. But I held on to it because I wasn’t really sure if Miguel would get it or not. Plus, I didn’t want to sell it to them since I got it for free. When he finally picked up the phone at 12pm, he sounded really sleepy. It turned out he had a terrible hangover from last night’s session with his cousins and said he couldn’t come.
Now I have a spare ticket in my hand and I don’t have any idea to whom I should give it to. And sakto, a Thomasian friend (whom I liked before) texted me and said he doesn’t have duty in the afternoon. We were just talking weeks ago about watching the game live if ever UST and Ateneo make it to the finals round. I told him I have a spare ticket but it’s on the blue side. I wasn’t really expecting him to get it because 1. it’s been ages since I last (and first) saw him, 2. it’s on the blue side, 3. aside from a girl friend, our other common connection (who is also the person who introduced me to him) is my ex. But then he said he’s cool with it and that he’d still be able to watch the game even if it’s on the blue side. I jokingly told him that he’d better wear blue.
Aaaaand he did. Haha. Hi Wes!
My other game buddy, Trisha! :D Hehz. Happy to have helped you watch a live game! I know we both needed this break. Fangirling with you is one of the highlights of the game!
The view from the Upper B. It’s like the Gen Ad of the big dome already. It was like watching a quidditch game. It was also a bit scary to stand up and cheer because the elevation is kinda steep and I felt like I’m gonna fall if I wave my hands too violently or if I jump up and down on my seat (which I did in the Ateneo-La Salle game). Good thing I’m not scared of heights. But some of the people in the crowd are and it would be stupid if I were the only one cheering like a crazy monkey in the crowd. In my opinion Araneta, despite being old and tattered, is still better than MOA Arena.
This was also taken before the game started. Notice the empty seats? They got filled up by the second quarter. Also, I love the solidness of UST’s color. Their crowd even had balloon clappers. It was an intense fight and by the fourth quarter, the coaches of both teams too were already heated up and they were contesting the referees’ calls. We still won, though. Thanks to Salva who scored 30 big points in the game. :)
Up by only 5 points! It was a hard win and I was scared for game 2. UST was very competitive and their team is a shooting team. I just wished my sister was there with me. It could have been more fun and more exciting if we were sitting side by side with each other, cheering for our respective Alma Maters.
What I did not appreciate though is how the UST crowd kept on booing until the end, even after our Alma Mater song started playing. I didn’t even realize that the Song for Mary was already halfway through because it got drowned in the jeers and boos of those in yellow. Good thing my seatmate didn’t join them, else I would have pushed him out of his seat. Haha! I kid. A bit.
And then issues about the game surfaced and mean articles from an esteemed student publication in the other school were released. And to make things worse, issues about racism also got into the news. But those are other stories. And I guess, the sudden appearance of such news only goes to show how tight and intense the rivalry was between the Ateneo and UST. Even more intense than the rivalry between the green and the blue this season.
Ateneo vs UST: Finals Game 2 (Oct 11, 2012)
This time, luck didn’t side on me.
I had test at exactly the time of the game was held and I couldn’t rush it because it was really hard and it only consisted of four essay questions — which means to say that each number is worth 20 to 30 points. We tried asking our professor (who looked like she does not have a tiny bit of a care about basketball) to move the time of our test for the “convenience” of everyone. But she refused. She even came in 10 minutes late. Guh. So we started the test at 3:40 and my heart sank when I read the first question. I had a feeling that I won’t be able to watch the 2nd game.
It was 5pm when the people outside our room started to scream and cheer. Yes, I could hear screams from the outside because TVs were set up almost everywhere in the campus and students who just finished their tests and couldn’t make it to the big dome came together and watched the game in school. I knew right then that the game must be in the third quarter already. I was down to the last question and I couldn’t think of anything anymore. Everytime I come up with an idea, I immediately lose it because the audience outside would suddenly cheer and chant “One Big Fight!” So I did what I think is the “right” thing to do. I just wrote whatever it is that came into my mind and passed my paper without looking back — shotgun move right there. Again, no regrets.
I rushed to the Leong Auditorium where I’m sure the game was being shown on a white screen through a projector. My friends saved a seat for me at the front (even though they weren’t sure if I could come, huhu, such good friends I have!) but I couldn’t go to them because the auditorium was so full. I found a friend at the back and she had a spare chair beside her. I elbowed my way to her and finally settled myself HAH! I still had 6 minutes left in the game.
So this was what I had witnessed. Haha! It felt like I was in Araneta, too! People also raised their hands with their index fingers up signaling a point for the free throw shooter. Students, faculty members, and non-faculty members all gathered together to support our players. In this kind of situation, who couldn’t feel the school spirit? I remember seeing the same scene two years ago, when we were fighting for our third championship against FEU. We were also in Leong that time and we were all up on our seats when Buenafe shot that winning shot.
Ateneo up by 3 — 7 seconds remaining. Longest 7 seconds of my life.
Some students at the back were already shouting, “Tapusin niyo na yan! May Accounting test pa kami!” There were even a group that said, “40 minutes na kaming late sa Psych test namin! Bonfire na please!” Haha! Couldn’t blame them. OH, MESSED UP PRIORITIES. =))
AAAAND WE SEALED IT! :D
5 CHAMPIONSHIPS IN A ROW, BABY! It was a historical win. When Coach Norman Black first entered the Ateneo Basketball Team as a head coach, he got into the finals against UST. We lost that time. 6 years after, and also his final year as a head coach, he made a comeback and I couldn’t think of a more glorious way of stepping down. In the words of Boom Gonzalez, “Coach Norman Black will be walking away with his head held high and his 5 fingers all spread out.” The last scene shown on the television was him hugging Pido Jarencio despite the latter’s racist comments in the first game. Read the article, guys! Coach Norman’s reply moved me. Haha!
The Bonfire was scheduled on Saturday, October 12, 2012 and a mass at the Gesu was scheduled at 8:30pm. I attended both events. They deserve a separate post. :)
The Church of Gesu all lighted up for the welcoming of the athletes and the thanksgiving mass. :)
Well one might say, “Sus, basketball lang yan” and I couldn’t blame him or her if that’s what s/he thinks. I actually wonder if the other schools also have this kind of school spirit. Maybe. But believe me, it’s more than the game. It’s how the Ateneans are able to unite and show their passion and support for one another that truly amaze me. And I strongly think that these values do not only show up during basketball games; I have seen these too, even stronger and more passionate, during times of calamities and disasters. I don’t even know if I have established the connection properly. Haha. But you know, there’s an “unexplainable” warmth whenever we gather together and act as one towards a certain goal. It makes me feel worthy, accepted, and loved. It makes me feel important, that I’m not just simply a student in this school and that my being “Atenean” is both a privilege and a responsibility to change whatever it is that needs to be changed in my family, in my community, and eventually, in my country. One step at a time.
Eagles don’t usually come in groups. But when they do, they make an impact.
O Kay Sarap Maging Atenista.