By Yann Magcamit
PASAY CITY – With the void left by Matt Nieto’s absence, the Ateneo Blue Eagles saw their “next man up” in Tyler Tio, who stepped up and powered through in the team’s recent game against the UP Fighting Maroons.
One might think that the Blue Eagles would be paralyzed without its lead guard on the court, but the ardent team from Katipunan showed that their play does not depend on just one person. The absence of Matt, who sat out for the Blue Eagles’ game against the Fighting Maroons due to both his injured finger and a fever, was barely felt as the team carried on and witnessed impressive plays from some of its men.
The most notable one of these breakthrough performances came from their young point guard Tyler Tio. Tio stepped up and produced a total of 12 points and 5 assists as the game concluded – marking one of his most impressive plays for the entire season. In fact, he even almost matched his total stats of 13 points and 5 assists for the season prior to the game.
“The captains and the coaches talked to us point guards, telling us that we really need to step up,” he shared.
Tio’s efficiency became essential in the Blue Eagles’ 83-66 win over the Fighting Maroons, thanks to his solid three-pointers in the second half of the game and turnover-less play. He also took the place of Nieto in the Blue Eagles’ starter line-up – and the point guard showed all throughout the game just how much he deserved it by owning each second he was on the court.
“I tried to do my best during the practices to earn the trust of the coaches. We have the philosophy in the team, “next man up”, so when Matt went down, obviously we were hurt because he’s one of our better players, one of our leaders,” he said.
“We just had to focus on what the coaches had for us. They had a good game plan for us. As a team, we had to make sure we stuck with our principles,” he continued.
Despite being applauded for his standout performance, Tio stayed humble and said he wasn’t the only one who stepped up in the team for the game. He gave props to fellow point guards Jolo Mendoza, SJ Belangel, and Adrian Wong.
“We just wanted to fill the void left by Matt,” Tio confessed – and with a play like that from their previous game, it's easy to say that they've been more than successful in doing so.
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