The upcoming 2018 William Jones Cup tournament is more than just a pre-season tournament for the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles. For the defending UAAP Men’s Basketball Champions, it’s their chance to give back to the country.
The current Blue Eagles have student-athletes who have previously or are currently part of the national team.
The troika of Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, and Matt Nieto are part of the 23 for 2023 Gilas Cadets and have also played for numerous youth teams. Aaron Black (FIBA Asia U18, 2014), Gian Mamuyac (Asia U18, 2016), Jolo Mendoza (Asia U18, 2016), and Mike Nieto (U17 World Cup, 2014) have also had a chance to don the country’s colors.
But for Ateneans like Jawuan White, William Navarro, Raffy Verano, Patrick Maagdenberg, Anton Asistio, Adrian Wong, Tyler Tio, and BJ Andrade, this might be their first and only chance to represent their country. And so, they are making the most of it.
“I guess we have to take advantage of this opportunity. For a lot of us, this is our Gilas call up.
“It is not just an opportunity but a responsibility to represent the country well,” Isaac Go said on behalf of his lower classmen during the team’s courtesy call to team backer Chooks-to-Go.
“Some of us represented the country back with Batang Gilas, while some are part of the Cadets, pero ito ‘yung chance namin as a team to represent the country,” added Mike Nieto.
On the other hand, rookie Ivorian student-athlete Angelo Kouame is relishing the experience of getting to represent his new home for the next few years.
“It’s really a blessing. I did not expect this. I’m really excited,” said Kouame, who was crowned the MVP of summer leagues Filoil and BBI.
“I’d like to say thank you to Chooks-to-Go for this opportunity.”
The Jones Cup, though a tournament that has no bearing in the country’s FIBA rankings, has become a yearly tradition for Filipinos. The Blue Eagles know the responsibility that comes with it.
“Isang karangalan makapaglaro for the university pero mas malaking karangalang ang makapaglaro para sa bayan. Hindi namin ine-expect ito at maraming salamat sa lahat who pushed for us to play for the country,” expressed Thirdy Ravena.
“Ibang pride and confidence ang dinadala ng playing for the country.”