Though incoming third-year Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin wanted the Blue Eagles to experience a beating in their series in Greece, the defending UAAP champions are showing that they can keep pace with the Greeks.
“The main objective of this trip is to learn and improve by playing A2 squads, U21 and Men’s National Team of Greece,” said Blue Eagles team manager Epok Quimpo.
Early Sunday morning (Manila time), Thirdy Ravena sunk a buzzer-beater to lift the Blue Eagles past Greece’s U21 National Team at the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece.
Greece’s U21 squad are the defending champions in the FIBA Europe U-20 championship. The squad is headlined by tournament Most Valuable Player Vasileios Charalampopoulos and Mythical Team member Antonis Koniaris.
Despite their opponents’ creditials, the Blue Eagles showed no fear all throughout the contest.
Down by one, 81-82, with no timeouts remaining, the Blue Eagles had to inbound the ball from the other length of the floor with just a few seconds remaining. Matt Nieto was able to find Ravena on the top of the arc. Ravena immediately threw up a heavily-contested triple that banked in to seal the victory in the tune-up match.
“Playing the U21 National team inspires us further as we represent the Filipinos here in Athens and back at home. This was made possible through MVP [Manny V. Pangilinan],” Quimpo expressed.
Ravena and Anton Asistio had 12 points each in the contest, while Raffy Verano chipped in eight markers.
The victory is just a bonus for the Blue Eagles, as they continue to rack up experience and knowledge from playing against the up-and-coming squads of Greek basketball.
“While there’s still a lot to work ahead of us, these are the moments that we cherish, that we bring with us in the months to come,” Quimpo closed.