AFTER a killer three-day stretch, Ateneo can finally have the reward it covets: a good night sleep.
The Blue Eagles survived and came out victorious in the 2018 Chooks-to-Go Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup, staving off San Beda, 76-62 in the Finals on Saturday.
And for assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga, though the winning run was a testament to the team’s impeccable strength and conditioning program, praises should be in order for the players who braved through the grinder of a schedule.
“Credit to the players. We knew it was a big game and we knew what was needed to be done,” the deputy said.
Ateneo arrived in the country from Greece late Wednesday night and didn’t get much sleep due to jetlag before taking on Letran in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
That stretch continued through Friday, where the Blue Eagles fought FEU, before the Saturday showdown against the Red Lions.
Coach Tab Baldwin, who was still in Greece, also had his input conveyed through Arespacochaga, who was tasked to handle the squad in his absence.
“Coach Tab messaged yesterday and told us: ‘The mind will tell the body what it should do.’ We conveyed the message to the players that it’s all in the mind, everything we’re dealing with, the jetlag and all. That message was very valuable for our players and that helped a lot,” he said.
Angelo Kouame was the shining light for Ateneo in the triumph, posting a big double-double of 15 points, 16 rebounds, and three blocks on his way to being named as the Tournament MVP.
Thirdy Ravena and Matt Nieto also were part of the Mythical Five as the Blue Eagles completed the perfect 12-0 run in the summer tournament.
Through all of it, Arespacochaga is just proud of how the Katipunan-based team showed its poise on their way to the top.
“The players responded to our gameplan and they all followed our instructions. We didn’t have practice and it was all verbal. So the coaching staff would just like to commend our players. Credit to all of them,” he said.