Ateneo’s only graduating player leaves a champion once more.
For the first time since their historic five-peat from 2008-2012, the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles won back-to-back championships in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
The reason for their continued success can be attributed to a superb head coach in Tab Baldwin, or monster performances by Thirdy Ravena—who was crowned Finals MVP once more—but a big part is because of their team captain Anton Asistio.
In a career that spanned 18 years playing for the Ateneo, Anton will now be hanging up his blue jersey, ending with two senior division championships in succession and a lifetime of memories.
In a parting message during ADMU’s thanksgiving mass held in the Church of the Gesu after their UAAP 81 championship win, Anton recounted his history with basketball, especially playing for Ateneo.
Anton grew up watching Ateneo games in the UAAP, idolizing players like Larry Fonacier and Chris Tiu who were both dubbed “King Eagles” after their college stints. At that time Anton had already played for the Ateneo Grade School and was slowly rising in the UAAP Juniors after previously playing in other leagues—as Anton puts it, “In high school, I figured out that basketball was what I wanted to do.”
Came Season 76, Anton entered college and was immediately accepted into ADMU’s first team, but he found it hard staying in. Prior to Season 78, he was demoted to the second team—Ateneo’s Glory Be—but it did not dampen his spirits as he got more playing time and won smaller tournaments.
Open tryouts were held in the summer before Season 79 because a new coach was coming into the program, and Anton “wanted to prove his value and worth.” He was in contention for the last spot on the team, but from being deemed “too short, too weak, too slow,” he was accepted and went on to three consecutive finals which culminated in the back-to-back championships.
Anton gave words of gratitude to a number of people, including his family—especially his father, who introduced him to basketball. Among his teammates he gave a special mention to were his fellow Ateneo Blue Eaglets like Thirdy, Aaron Black, and the Nieto twins. He also thanked coaches Bo Perasol and Tab Baldwin, for the mentorship and trust they gave him.
Of course, Anton saved his final farewell for the ever supportive Ateneo community. For him, it was a dream come true to play for the blue and white. “No matter where I go, I will carry the ‘One Big Fight’ in my heart,” says the captain.
Anton’s devotion to the Ateneo Blue Eagles will never be forgotten by the University and maybe even the UAAP. His loyalty and passion prove that dreams are achieved by working hard and trusting the process. He may soon be going down the hill, but Anton Asistio will be considered as one of the Eagles’ highest flyers.
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