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    Ball is life, but studies still come first for Ateneo guard Matt Nieto

    Jan 22, 2019
    PHOTO: dante peralta

    BALL is life, but priorities are priorities.

    And for some players for Ateneo, classes are at the top of their checklists as they came in late for Monday's game against San Beda in the 2018 Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL).

    "It's our first day of classes and we really have a class schedule of 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Monday, so wala kaming choice," shared Matt Nieto after coming in late together with his brother Mike, Jolo Mendoza, and Tyler Tio.

    "We really have to attend because it's the first day of classes and ayaw naman naming masabing we missed a class because of a basketball game. Yun yung laging excuse namin pag first sem eh. Yung priority talaga namin, di lang yung mga na-late, pati yung buong team is education, studies talaga muna."

    The Blue Eagles only had eight players on hand for the 4 p.m. tip-off against the Red Lions as the quartet rushed straight from their classes in Katipunan just to make it to Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

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    They arrived midway through the third quarter.

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    But as exhausting as the tight schedule was, Nieto said that they didn't want to miss the game pitting the champions of both the UAAP and the NCAA in a best-of-three semifinals of the unofficial national championship.

    "Kung kami talaga tatanungin, gusto naming maglaro kasi, it's really champions in the NCAA versus champions in the UAAP. Really, para sa amin, it's all about pride yung labanan," said Nieto, who went scoreless in his six minutes of action for Ateneo as San Beda took the opener, 49-43.

    Yet Nieto said he is a student first and as an athlete next.

    "Alam mo naman sa Ateneo, it's always studies first. And really, we have to catch up on our studies because it's the second sem. Medyo marami kaming classes and we really missed a lot during the first sem," Nieto said.

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    But not all hope is lost, as Ateneo will try to extend the series to the full route when Game Two is played on Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

    And as much as the Blue Eagles feel rusty, Nieto vows to give the Red Lions everything they could handle.

    "Last Thursday lang ulit kami nag-practice as a team again. So we're getting back into shape pa lang and 'yung timing 'yung medyo wala pa. So tomorrow and Wednesday, we'll just try to get back in shape," he said.

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    PHOTO: dante peralta
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