My shirt today read Marvelous Maroons, though my boys were anything but. They not only lacked Martin Reyes (downed by fever) and Magi Sison (downed by immaturity leading to a metacarpal fracture; heck, figure that out), they also were short on heft, height, composure, rebounding, and, it seems, the will to win.
They were missing lay-ups, three-pointers, and uncontested shots. They weren't passing the ball, their motion offense had no motion, and they weren't rebounding. Ateneo looked stellar in comparison, what with 30 rebounds more than UP had.
It should've been less of an uneven match: Even if UP is still rebuilding a team with its nine rookies, Ateneo also suffers the loss of three key players. To its credit, Ateneo does not play as if it were, as it is, handicapped, at least compared with other teams. Some say Ateneo might reach the Final Four, but would not be a serious contender. But don't tell that to the Ateneo: It wouldn't matter and they wouldn't care; those boys on the other side of Katipunan play with spirit and a big heart. I admire them for that.
It is true, what Coach Mark Jomalesa said to the boys yesterday, that when playing against the Ateneo, what matters more than the X's and the O's is energy and intensity—both of which were nowhere near the boys’ game today.
The Coach couldn't attend the game; he had an entire staff to run after his supervisor called in sick. He did his best, though; leaving his post, he went to the next-door sari-sari with a small TV set but no electricity. There was a generator, and The Coach, desperate, forked over money for someone to buy gasoline to power the generator. And so he was able to witness the massacre.
I write this at the Lavazza Caffe Espresso at The Fort, where the coaches have gone after dinner at Kaiseki to recover from the shocking 24-point loss.
This Sunday my boys will meet the powerhouse NU, with its formidable Asoro and Lingao-lingao. I'll be there with my Marvelous Maroons shirt, and hope it'll make a difference.