Both Ateneo and Chooks-To-Go exchanged tokens after their gallant stand in the Jones Cup. Franchesca Nicole Collantes/Dugout Philippines
PASIG -- For Ronald Mascariñas, the fourth place finish of Ateneo in the Jones Cup shone brighter than gold as the Blue Eagles came home from Taiwan in a simple homecoming rights Tuesday evening.
The proud owner of Chooks-To-Go said that the performance of the Blue Eagles help mend the wounds of Philippine basketball which was badly damaged in the brawl between Gilas and the Boomers of Australia earlier in the month.
"As they said, we do not demand respect. We earned it," Mascariñas said, adding that the reigning UAAP champions have done a great job being the ambassadors of goodwill.
"You showed talent, grit, hardwork, and more importantly, you showed the highest level of sportsmanship," he added, after giving out a reward to Thirdy Ravena and Matt Nieto for helping South Korea's Choi Jun-Young in their second game in which they lost.
The decision to send the Blue Eagles was met by derision at first by the so-called "armchair experts". But it was revealed behind the scenes that it was a plan after all to have them on stand-by mode in case of drastic situations, a stark contrast to what most think was a short notice.
"Whether it was Ateneo or Gilas, we're really prepared to support a contingent for the Jones Cup."
But with circumstantances that made the main national side unavailable which was compounded by the sanctions on those involved in a brawl, he admitted that having Ateneo to represent the Philippines was the wisest choice that they have made.
"It was the best choice na ipadala ang Ateneo. Dahil nagchampion sa FilOil, na tinalo nila ang Gilas Cadets," he added, with the Blue Eagles's form before defending their UAAP crown was an easy takeaway for them to get the nod to represent the country for the Taiwan tourney.
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