MANILA, Philippines – The seemingly untouchable Ateneo Blue Eagles flexed their champion form anew in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament, but not after a bit of a scare to forge an 80-74 triumph over the Adamson Soaring Falcons at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, October 9.
On the eve of the one-year mark of their last loss, the elite Blue Eagles clinched their ninth straight win of the season while the low-lying Falcons dropped their fourth straight game for a 3-6 record.
Ateneo has not dropped a game since losing a 60-63 decision against the veteran-laden FEU Tamaraws back in October 10 last year.
Thirdy Ravena pumped in a personal season-best 23 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds as the Blue Eagles to secure at least a playoff for the Final Four.
Will Navarro chipped in 11 points, 8 boards, and 4 blocks, while Matt Nieto also fired 11 points for Ateneo, which saw Adamson threaten within single digit in the closing minutes.
“We really survived Adamson in the end,” said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.
“We made a lot of bonehead plays. There’s no excuse for that. We have to practice those kinds of situations. We didn’t perform well in that scenario in either end. We have to figure out how to be good in either situation.”
After a back-and-forth first half reminiscent of many games prior, the two-time defending champions expectedly cranked up the heat in the 3rd quarter.
Feeding off the hot shooting of team star Ravena, Ateneo finished the frame with a 13-2 run for the 63-50 lead.
However, the Falcons found new wind in the payoff period and inched within 6, 61-67, after star guards Val Chauca and Jerrick Ahanmisi buried consecutive treys at the midway mark.
But a few defensive stops led by Will Navarro had the Eagles building a 10-point lead, 73-63, off a Matt Nieto floater with 2:32 left.
Ahanmisi, though, inched the gap again within 4, 71-75, after a desperation three with 21 seconds left, but Ravena simply sealed the deal with two free throws off the duty foul for the 77-71 lead.
The Fil-Peruvian rookie Chauca and Ahanmisi unloaded 17 points each in their best performance as a tandem, but their efforts still fell short.
Ateneo 80 – Ravena 23, Navarro 11, Nieto Ma. 11, Daves 10, Go 7, Kouame 7, Nieto Mi. 7, Mamuyac 3, Wong 1, Belangel 0, Maagdenberg 0, Tio 0.
Adamson 74 – Ahanmisi 17, Chauca 17, Douanga 13, Yerro 12, Camacho 6, Manlapaz 5, Lastimosa 4, Fermin 0, Flowers 0, Magbuhos 0, Mojica 0.
Quarters: 22-18, 34-37, 63-50, 80-74.