EDITOR’S NOTE: I first read Ana’s work in this wonderfully written and researched article about the problems plaguing the PBA. Here she is writing about something more personal. Last week, she witnessed La Salle lose to Ateneo. She writes about her experiences in the dying moments of that game.
When Arrows Failed to Fly
Written by Ana Salvador
It’s been a week. But until now I can’t seem to grasp the reality that we lost the championship.
It still hurts. Watching along with the 22,011 others in Araneta that night, I stared blankly as white confetti flew around the coliseum when the final buzzer blared. That sound was surely music―a melody of sorts― to the ears of those wearing blue; but for us it was a dreadful sound we’d rather not hear again.
It’s not like we did not expect it to happen. Down by ten with less than three minutes to play, it became more and more evident that the trophy was finally making its way to Katipunan after five years. At that moment, when my team couldn’t seem to find an answer to Ateneo’s uproar, I whispered a silent prayer. “Nothing is impossible”, I thought.
At that moment, I kept on reminding myself that just this season, we won against Ateneo while they already secured a considerably safe margin two minutes to the buzzer. I kept on reminding myself that the Archers were 21 points behind when they rallied all the way to a Game 2 win. La Salle does wonders, and I was hoping for one more miracle in the final minutes of the game.
La Salle did cut the lead down to two. But unfortunately, this game didn’t turn out to be one of those games. My dream of witnessing a back-to-back championship was shattered as I saw Thirdy Ravena dish the ball straight into the waiting hands of Isaac Go. It took much longer for me to acknowledge what was happening. As the ball made its way into the basket, I lost grip of all the hope I was holding on to and turned deaf as the Ateneo community emerged in a joyful chaos.
The moments that followed that were a blur. My last sight was of Andrei Caracut hitting a shot from beyond the arc, trying to salvage the crown with the very little time that he had. And then I heard the buzzer. I saw the Eagles running into the court in victory. I heard the triumphant sound resonating from the other side of the coliseum. I stood there, astounded. I found the strength to applaud the new champions together with the people of Taft Avenue.
More than losing the battle to our arch rivals, what pained me most was the immediate aftermath of the game. It didn’t take long before I saw the Green Archers go straight to their loved ones, all crying, helpless and disheartened. I saw none of the strong team that they were; instead what I witnessed were the raw, unfiltered emotions of defeat. Seeing Ricci Rivero, Ben Mbala, and even Coach Aldin Ayo in tears, was a scene that was tough to watch. Masakit siya.
It was heartbreaking to come only two points short of defending the title. It made me realize the painful thought that all the hard work and effort put forth by the boys this season was in vain. The “what ifs” in that game stung. I keep looking back at the could-have-beens while asking myself what went wrong. But as with every failure, I reminded myself that we will never learn if we keep thinking about the past. “You can’t just learn by winning, you can also learn by losing”, says Ben. And as I look forward to what’s ahead for the team, that may just prove to be true.
“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward.” I came across this cliché of a quote multiple times before, but I never really found it fitting until now. Without a doubt, that was a gallant stand by the Green Archers; they kept fighting like the champions that they were down to the very last second. They deserve nothing but respect for that. They are already champions in their own rights.
Despite their downfall, La Salle found a way to huddle in a much-needed show of solidarity and unity. When it was finally our turn to sing the Alma Mater hymn, we stood up with much grace in honor of the Green and White. The UAAP Season 80 Basketball concluded with the line, “We’ll fight to keep your glory bright, and never shall we fail.”
It is an echo of a promise every Lasallian strives to live by, now and for the future.