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Blue Eagles proves doubters wrong with second seed in Final 4.

When Kiefer Ravena left the confines of Ateneo in 2015, many thought it would be the end for the Blue Eagles' dominance in UAAP basketball.

Considering Ravena was a two-time MVP who almost singlehandedly carried the Blue Eagles in his back for Season 78, many discounted the Blue Eagles as a solid title contender.

But looking at Ateneo's placing at the end of the eliminations of UAAP Season 79, the doubters were proved wrong.

'I guess it's a surprise to other people but for us, we just focus on every game and we'll see where we go and we ended up at no.2 so we are grateful where we are right now,' said head coach Sandy Arespacochaga Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.

Ateneo locked up the second seed with a 73-67 drubbing of Adamson University en route to a 10-4 slate.

The Blue Eagles' flight to the second spot, however, wasn't a cruise and was often met with turbulence especially after opening the season at 4-4.

What followed after Ateneo's mediocre start was a six-game blitz that would put the Blue Eagles firmly in the Final Four picture.

'We just wanted to win, to all the doubters out there, we wanted to prove them wrong,' said sophomore Mike Nieto. 'Iyon ang pinagpatayan namin today, and we wanted [that twice-to-beat] so bad.'

For Thirdy Ravena, the younger brother of Kiefer who missed the Blue Eagles' campaign the prior season, leading a young team to the playoffs just gives him more motivation to silence the critics.

Ateneo's current roster is filled with rookies and sophomores with G-Boy Babilonia the only Blue Eagle who is on his fifth year.

'We worked really hard this season then prove sa lahat na di porket bata di kaya manalo, I know we're a young team so we have to dig deep,' said Thirdy. 'Iniisip lang namin na every game is the most important game, I think we had that mentality to give it all.'

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Nov 16, 2016
Words:403
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