There was a sense of relief among the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles on Sunday afternoon, as after four games, they finally had twins Matt and Mike Nieto back.
It was perfect timing, as the defending champions are in the midst of a stretch that will see them face the likes of the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, the DLSU Green Archers, and the UST Growling Tigers.
“It’s great to be back. Lalo na sa amin ni Matt na four games na ‘di nakalaro,” expressed Mike.
“Pero as you can see, wala pa kami sa timing kasi ilang weeks din kaming ‘di naka-practice.”
Matt and Mike saw limited minutes in their return, with the former finishing with five points in 13 minutes while the latter scored three points and grabbing two rebounds in seven minutes of game time.
But the way rest of the Blue Eagles stepped up in lieu of the duo has made the two seniors proud.
“I’m really proud sa ginawa sa ginawa ng team habang wala kami ni Mike. I’m really proud sa point guards especially SJ [Belangel] and Tyler [Tio],” beamed Matt.
“They really stood their ground.”
Meanwhile, the twins also reflected on the events that led to their absence. Matt injured his left pinky last October 10 against FEU. On the other hand, Mike sprained his ankle in practice a few days later.
Then a week later, the twins were diagnosed with dengue fever.
“Na-fracture yung (left) pinky ko nung FEU kaya ‘di na ako nakabalik. Now, recovered na siya, parang pinapatigas na lang. Na-surgery siya after [nung] FEU game,” shared Matt.
“A day after na-confine si Matt, na-confirm na dengue, ako naman sumunod. Before naman ng dengue, na-sprain ako sa practice,” added Mike.
“Siya, bali yung kamay tsaka dengue. Ako, left foot sprain tsaka dengue.”
Right on cue, the two recovered at the same time. And it feels good for them to be back.
“It’s really good to be back dito sa Adamson. Nung na-injure and nagkasakit ako, gusto ko bumalik kalaban Adamson,” said Matt as Ateneo got back their first round loss to Adamson with a 62-48 win.
“One-hundred percent ako o hindi pa, gusto ko kalabanin Adamson kasi may kinuha sila samin nung first round na ngaing motivation, inspiration namin kalabanin na ulit sila.”