by Alexa Gamboa – SA21-Q
At the start of the UAAP season, what everybody looks forward to is the Ateneo men’s basketball team, which has been defending the trophy for four consecutive years. I noticed that no other team sport in the Ateneo would get such attention. This team would get more sponsors, publicity, a bonfire and obviously, a far larger audience than any other sports team in the school would get. Being a part of the Blue Babble Battalion, going to these much-hyped games is just another day at work for me. However, this particular game was different. There was something about this game that made it so much more intense that an Ateneo vs. La Salle game, which was always one of the biggest games of any season.
Generally, the Ateneo vs. UST games are kind of underrated as compared to the Ateneo vs. La Salle games. If you’d ask a person which of these games he or she would rather go to, that person would prefer going to the Ateneo vs. La Salle game because of the hype that both schools, being rivals, would bring. I would say different. The Ateneo vs. UST games are much more stressful and it really makes your heart skip beats because this game is the most, if not, one of the most suspenseful and thrilling games of the UAAP.
As I arrived at the Mall of Asia Arena with the team, I noticed that there was definitely more hype for this game. The arena was packed more than any other game this season, but only on the UST side. The people were crowding at the lower box to the point that there was no seating room, and behind the seats stood a sea of people. As for the Ateneo side, the seats were only just enough for the people, but the Ateneo crowd didn’t reach the numbers of the UST crowd. A reason for the drastic difference is that there are 50% more students and faculty in UST than in the Ateneo. This totals more alumni who watch, and a much bigger crowd of current students.
For UST’s side, excitement really filled the air. The spectators flooded the arena, and some of the seats that were supposed to be reserved for the Ateneo side were even given to UST’s crowd because of their large number. In fact, as I alighted from the babble bus, there were a lot more scalpers than I had seen in any other game. If you take away the population factor of both teams, another reason why there was so much hype for this game would be because it was one of the few remaining games of the basketball season, so naturally, both teams wanted this win- and badly. It was so obvious that a lot of people wanted to witness this game for the hope of winning the championship.
For the UST side, they kept their reputation for being both an aggressive team and an aggressive crowd. Throughout the entire game, their crowd went crazy over every point their team scored, and even every attempt at a point. In short, the crowd was easy to hype up. However, on the Ateneo side, it seemed as if they didn’t really put their mindsets into the game. Whenever team Ateneo was down, the crowd was difficult to motivate. I guess this can be attributed to Ateneo’s four consecutive championships. This makes the Ateneo crowd spoiled since going there, more of Ateneo’s crowd are so used to winning almost every game that they go to the game just to watch a win for their team. The reason why they do this is because they like to feel secure, and in Ateneo games, they immediately feel secure because it seems to be automatic for them that team Ateneo will win.
For the cheering squads, there was more pressure put on both teams. The teams started off with a routine prayer and huddle before games to motivate the halftime dancers and battalion, drummers, brass section, and the basketball team itself. For both teams, today, the routine was slightly different. The motivational speech during the huddle was a lot longer, a lot less calm, and more hyped up to do their job. Obviously, this was to motivate the members of the Babble Battalion and the Yellow Jackets to do a better job, but it wasn’t in a way implying that they didn’t want to do their job, it was to get the cheering squad excited and more dedicated to getting a very loud crowd.
During the first two quarters of the game, I would have to say that the crowd was relaxed. It wasn’t as intense because at that point in the game, it was hard to determine who was going to win and who was going to lose. Hopes for both teams were still high in the air because if one team would lag behind the other, there was still more time and less pressure to catch up. For the cheering squads, there was also less pressure because the captains were still at ease with how the game was going. However, there was a difference in the tension and excitement of the crowd between the first and second quarters. There was slightly more pressure in the second quarter because one quarter had already passed, and if there was still time to catch up with the other team, that was the time to do it.
When the game reached the halftime routines of both teams, the crowd got back to their relaxed state. The halftime routines of both teams were indeed both pleasing to the eyes, and it was fun to watch. The crowd and the teams became relaxed at this point in the game because it gave the both teams recovery time for the intense first half, and it calmed down the crowd because nothing too exciting was happening. When halftime ended, all of a sudden, the crazy excitement started bursting out once again. I thought it was cool for the mood of the arena to change in under five seconds.
When the game reached its second half, people started turning crazy. They were extremely pulled in by the game because it was their last chance to turn the tables around. In fact, one of the coaches started to violently react to the referees because of a foul that the referee didn’t call. If this foul were to be called in the first half of the game, the coach definitely would not have reacted this way because there would have been less pressure, but since the game was nearing its end, the mood had drastically changed. the crowd was wilder than ever, and people became desperate for that win because of the increasing suspense.
In the end, team Ateneo won. Unfortunately, the crowd was still not as enthusiastic because of the expectations of the win, but for other people, many were relieved of the stress of the game. To sum it all up, it’s amazing how the mood changes so fast in intense games like these. I would definitely say that games like these are worth going to because the people take the win or loss personally, and that’s what makes these games so entertaining.