The Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles catapulted themselves to a guaranteed Finals slot after going undefeated in 14 consecutive games in the eliminations phase of the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Billed as favorites to defend their title even before the season started, the Tab Baldwin-mentored squad has certainly lived up to the hype and more. Thirdy Ravena’s stellar play on both ends of the floor is one of the main reasons why the Katipunan-based team is enjoyin a long winning streak that dates back to Season 81.
Now just within reach of their ultimate goal, the high-flying forward talked about living up to the expectations after an unblemished run.
“I think there’s always pressure naman for us especially before pa magstart yung season. They were already expecting something from our team whether it’s a sweep or we win a lot of games,” he said after Ateneo’s 86-64 win over UP last Wednesday.
“But I think the pressure that really matters is that the pressure we put on ourselves in trying to be the best team and best individuals we can possibly be. And I think that’s what coach Tab reiterates in our practices na we can’t avoid the outside noise, lagi naman yan whether it’s your family member, kung sino magsabi sa yo, kung ano gusto nila mangyari whether it’s a sweep, kung ano man yun, I really think our main focus is that we work together as a team and we do the things that we have to do in order to be the best versions of ourselves,” Ravena added.
Ravena added that although Ateneo does boast a talented line-up, their success is still a result of the hard work put up by all 12 members of the team.
“I think for our elimination round campaign it wasn’t really perfect we had a lot of mistakes. We had a lot of things to work on. It was brutal for us lalo na nung sa practice or sa viewing session kapag sinasabi ni coach Tab yung mga mali namin. But just like what coach Tab said, we really absorbed it because we wanted to play for one another, we wanted to make this team special, especially us seniors it’s gonna be our last year in collegiate basketball. We just wanna make sure we ended on a good note.”
Ateneo will enjoy a well-deserved long lay-off, as they await which team emerges out of the stepladder and figure in a best-of-three affair against them on November 16.