Two generations belonging to one family are now enjoying the experience of having led the Ateneo Blue Eagles to the men’s basketball titles in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
The patriarch, Joseph “Jett” Nieto, who used to play for the Ateneo Blue Eagles and watched as his twin sons Matthew and Mike lead their teammates to a final push that lifted Blue Eagles to the crown in the 80th UAAP finals.
“So proud. So proud of my kids. It’s exactly 30 years ago na nanalo kami,” said a tearful Jett, who wore red, and was with friends and family members when Ateneo pulled off an emotional 88-86 win over the defending champion La Salle Green Archers on Sunday at the Big Dome.
Jett was part of the 1987 and 1988 squad that won back-to-back men’s championships.
He played alongside Jun Reyes, Danny Francisco, Jayvee Gayoso and Nonoy Chuatico.
A knee injury after their last championship kept Jett from pursuing plans of turning professional and playing in the Philippine Basketball Association.
And so he decided to pursue plans of becoming a doctor instead.
Jett, now an orthopedic surgeon, watched as three-point bombs in the fourth period and a loose ball error forced on Ben Mbala in the dying seconds decided the fate of the Ateneo Blue Eagles
Matt, who is younger by two minutes, had 14 points.
Jett said the Nieto twins played without pressure in Game 3. That’s because the Blue Eagles were not expected to make it all the way to the finals.
“There’s no pressure because we’re not expecting (them) to be here in the finals. You know naman La Salle is a powerhouse team,” explained Jett.
Matthew went on to finish with 14 points while Mike was scoreless, but he came up with two assists and a steal in the six minutes he played.
Matt said he was inspired by a letter their father wrote to them before the game.
“He said, ‘we made it.’ You achieved what I achieved in 1987. Sabi niya, we made it man. Pero talo ka pa rin sa akin, kasi back-to-back champion kami. Ako isa pa lang daw,” remarked Matt on his father’s light-hearted note to him.
The Blue Eagles now have nine men’s basketball crowns, with the Nieto family having seen action in three of the finals that Ateneo had won.