Even a team as loaded with stars as the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles need contributions from their role players from time to time.
With a chance to become the first team to book its ticket to the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament Final 4 on the line, Ateneo turned to an unlikely weapon early to eke a 77-69 win over their bitter rivals De La Salle University Green Archers on Sunday.
Adrian Wong was the first to heed that call for the Blue Eagles, pouring in eight of his game-high 18 markers in the first period. The unheralded swingman found his groove from deep, hitting four of his seven total attempts from distance.
Speaking after the game, Wong expressed his joy to come out with a breakout game, given the magnitude of the match.
“Actually this game means a lot because of course it’s Ateneo-La Salle. But like we said earlier, anyone on this team, we believe in everyone on this team. Anyone could have a breakout game anyone could rise to the occasion and that’s one of our mantras is next man up so I believe anyone on this team rising to the occasion,” he shared.
Wong was also quick to give credit to Ateneo’s brilliant coaching staff for giving him not just the opportunity to show his wares, but also for instilling confidence in his game.
“The coaches throughout the whole year they’ve been coaching us, making us better. And anyone on this team could get on fire. As you can see throughout the whole season, someone steps up each game and the coaches have prepared for us to prepare that made us ready for that each moment and hopefully we can all just bring it together and continue striving to be our best each game,” Wong added.
Unlike in their initial game in the first round were Ateneo blitzed La Salle from the get-go, the latter managed to keep the game close in the rematch and even took the momentum away in several stretches. Coach Tab Baldwin acknowledged Wong’s contributions for allowing Ateneo to get off on a fast start.
“I think if Adrian doesn’t come out hot, we’re in trouble in the first half. But fortunately, he did. And I think it’s another example of, you know, somebody else on our roster stepping up and, and, you know, having a good game when it was needed.
Ateneo returns to action on Wednesday, October 16, against the FEU Tamaraws, while DLSU will battle the UE Red Warriors on the same day.