Championship games make us kids again
By Al S. Mendoza
WHO expected University of Sto. Tomas to win the 2012 UAAP basketball title?
Only Pido Jarencio, the UST coach.
Oh, wait a minute, Pido’s mother, too.
Thus, if Pido is still weeping in his Nanay’s laps, understood.
Never mind if Pido’s wife is merely watching from a distance, also in bitter mode.
Most setbacks break our hearts.
Pido’s Growling Tigers had been swept 2-0 by the Ateneo Blue Eagles and, anytime, that result should be a bitter pill to swallow to anyone coaching in a high-drama series.
The basketball Finals between Ateneo and UST was set for best-of-three.
With Pido’s Tigers getting shut out by the Eagles, it only meant that Ateneo is the undisputed king of school basketball in this country, at least in the UAAP backyard.
Before the championship began, UST was leaning on history.
In 2006, UST defeated Ateneo for the UAAP crown.
While it gave Pido a Cloud 9 feeling that year, that setback made Black sulk for quite a while.
Why, because Black won Game One.
After Pido came back with back-to-back wins in Games 2 & 3 in 2006, Ateneo was ridiculed no end by not only the Espana-based UST fans but also by virtually the entire UAAP republic.
You know how it is in school basketball: The favorite going down in defeat gets continually ribbed, if not booed, because man, by nature, loves underdogs.
UST had been the underdog again this year.
When the Tigers dropped Game One, 78-83, the fans poured their hearts out to UST.
And then came Pido’s outbursts.
Aimed at first at the referees, Pido’s eruption would shift to Black, proving his downfall of sorts.
Fans didn’t like Pido saying, “Because Black spoke English, the referees favored him.”
Pido got a “ton of tomatoes” from all directions.
He stopped his nonsense only after the high priests of UST told him to keep his temper in check, not to mention UAAP officials threatened him with sanctions if he didn’t behave.
Pido behaved. And it almost reaped rewards when Game 2 was played.
Alas, Ateneo was simply too good, what with a lineup teeming with star qualities like 7-footer Greg Slaughter, back-to-back Finals MVP Nico Salva and the extremely talented, 18-year-old Kiefer Ravena, to name but a few.
UST gave it its best shot in Game 2 but, in the end, Ateneo’s championship poise behind four straight titles from 2008 prevailed to produce a title-clinching 65-62 victory.
Pido, in a show of sportsmanship and a total 360-degree turnaround, embraced Black after the game.
Let bygones be bygones.
Championship games are like that.
They make us kids again.