Looking at Ateneo Blue Eaglets' Filoil debut
Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - May 4, 2016 - 12:59am

MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Blue Eaglets lost their Filoil Flying V Premier Cup debut against the San Beda Red Cubs, 86-81, last Saturday. The Red Cubs are a relatively intact squad and have been together for about three years now, whereas the Blue Eaglets that took the floor featured only four players from their Final Four squad of last season (veteran Carlos Gatmaytan was unavailable for the match).

San Beda spotted Ateneo as much as 16 points but Ateneo cut it down to two points late in the game. A series of miscues killed their chances of pulling out a win.

Despite the loss, for Ateneo fans and supporters, there is a lot to like.

Aside from the big time rally, this Ateneo team has potential.

Key stats

15 assists to SBC’s 13

50 rebounds to SBC’s 43

46 percent FG shooting to SBC’s 41 percent

20 FTAs to SBC’s 18

25 turnovers to SBC’s 18!

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that they lost. It is a tournament to learn and get better. While they look deeper and are more talented, they do not have a designated scorer in the vein of a Jolo Mendoza. But that is why you play the pre-season — to figure things out.

Not only are they deeper and more talented, Ateneo is certainly taller this year, the 6’9” Kai Sotto notwithstanding. The 6’7” Zack Salazar, who did his time on Team B, starts at center. There’s RV Berjay and Andrei Flores to help out. However, the really must establish their inside game more than securing points from layups from the guards and forwards. While Mike Nieto was their last inside force, he oft played outside and shot from the outside. The last real inside force the Eaglets had was Paolo Romero, and that was some time ago.

Here are my thoughts about some of the players on the team:

SJ Belangel (13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists) – Point guard and will lead this team. High scoring and fearless player. Can rebound, play defense. Could possibly be their go-to scorer especially in the clutch. I’d like to see more passing though.

Jason Credo (12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks) – Plays the three spot although will see time at the four. He’s a natural at the three though. Tall and with long arms. Good instincts on offense and defense. Can bring the ball up. Pass. He can drive inside and stick the three. What I have liked about this kid since last season which is why I have been raving about him is that he doesn’t push things. He allows the game to flow and in doing so finding his place in the offense. He doesn’t take too many bad shots. He needs to bulk up though.

Dave Ildefonso (14 points and 7 rebounds) – This kid’s confidence has simply soared. I think it is a luxury to have both Dave and Jason on the same team as they have similar games although Dave is more of a scorer while Credo does a lot of the little things.

Amchel Angeles (9 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists) – Could be this team’s outside gunner to replace Jolo Mendoza. Not as deadly. Yet. Likes a fast-paced game. But needs to be consistent with his outside bombs.

Joaqui Manuel (6 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 turnovers) – Younger brother of UP’s Jett Manuel. Will be a stud for this team. Not as athletic as his older brother but he can also shoot. Will get better as he gets more used to the top level of competition in the UAAP.

Zack Salazar (4 points and 5 rebounds) – The Eaglets need to get this dude in the mix. He just can’t be scrapping for offensive boards and putbacks. The better the inside game, the better for the team.

Kai Sotto (4 points and 1 assist in 6 minutes) – Not a bad debut. Still raw. Once he gets used to the pace and power, his presence in the middle will allow Ateneo’s guards and wingmen to gamble a little on offense and scoot for the fastbreak layup.

RV Berjay (2 points and 5 rebounds) – Even from last season, he’s got a great upside. Nifty moves in and around the paint. Needs to stay out of foul trouble and be consistent. Can bring down the ball and could benefit from the improved wing play of the team.

In our next analysis, we will have more on Josh Espino (Dennis Espino’s son), Miguel Santos (Rodney Santos’ son), Rap Escalona (Macky Escalona’s cousin), and the other Eaglets.

Right now, these Eaglets of Joe Silva have scoring sock, speed, and size. Now we’d like to see how that matches up with De La Salle Zobel’s and NU’s.

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