MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Blue Eagles withstood a gallant stand from the FEU Tamaraws to come away with an 81-78 win in a squeaker of a game which shoved the Eagles to solo second with a 4-1 slate in the men’s basketball tournament of UAAP Season 77 on Sunday, August 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Kiefer Ravena rebounded mightily from his subpar performance against NU in their last outing – where he scored only 13 points on 3-of-20 field goal shooting – and dropped 23 points on 5-of-15 field goals and 11-of-15 makes from the stripe in this win over FEU.
While he still struggled from the field, the King Eagle delivered for his team once again when they needed him most.
Ravena went beast mode with 2:22 remaining in the contest when he hit a stepback jumper for a 70-66 cushion. Thirty seconds later he waved off an offer to screen from his teammate and rose for a three-pointer that hit nothing but net, 73-66.
He then provided a stable hand from the line, shooting 5 of his last 6 free throws to put away a gritty Tamaraws squad. He also managed 7 assists, an improvement from his 6 dimes against NU.
“Last game sobrang ganda ng shooting ko,” Ravena made fun of his previous performance, which paved the way for him to pass the ball some more. “So I really wanted to involve my teammates in this game.”
(Last game my shooting was impeccable.)
The Eagles as a team also recovered well after the Bulldogs ended their 3-game win streak, bouncing back in indomitable fashion.
FEU, led by Mac Belo’s 22 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, stayed in it all the way to the final second as Belo, Mike Tolomia, and Francis Tamsi hit crucial shots that could’ve swung the game in their favor.
Belo orchestrated a defensive gem against Arvin Tolentino, blocking his attempt to drive with under a minute remaining before fishing the foul and splitting from the line on the other end, 69-75.
Tamsi then confidently knocked down the Tamaraws’ lone triple of the final quarter after Belo passed the ball back to him coming off the inbound, giving FEU a prime chance down only 75-72 with 28.4 to play.
Tolomia, who clocked in 15 markers and 3 assists, took charge from that point on, scoring on speedy coast to coast drives every few seconds to stay within two-point distance of the Eagles.
However, Ravena and Nico Elorde (12 points, 5 assists) displayed their championship pedigree and composure by calmly sinking their freebies.
“I liked the way we played the game up to the last few minutes. We should’ve been able to finish it better,” Ateneo head coach Bo Perasol admitted. “But it’s still a win for us and again Kiefer delivered for us during crunch time.”
He added, “I think we played toe-to-toe with them rebounding-wise and running-wise.”
The Eagles were out-rebounded 37-35 but held the edge in assists, 15-12. They were also severely outplayed underneath with a 46-28 advantage for FEU on inside points.
Anthony Hargrove added 13 points and 13 boards for FEU, who fell to a 3-2 win-loss record.
Chris Newsome and Von Pessumal were heroes for Ateneo as well with 17 and 12 points, respectively.
Newsome also had 7 rebounds.
“He (Newsome) kept us in the game during the first half,” Ravena said of his teammate.
The younger Thirdy Ravena also made his presence felt in this game with 4 points and 5 rebounds.
“I’m happy for him as a brother,” said the older Ravena.
Ateneo will next face a shaky UST Growling Tigers on Wednesday, August 6 and the UE Red Warriors later on in the week.
FEU has the NU Bulldogs and the Adamson Soaring Falcons as their last assignments for the first round.
“I hope that we can carry this in the two more games that we’re going to play this week,” Perasol said.
Ateneo (81): K. Ravena 23, Newsome 17, Elorde 12, Pessumal 12, Capacio 5, A. Tolentino 5, T. Ravena 4, Gotladera 2, V. Tolentino 1, Apacible 0, Babilonia 0.
FEU (78): Belo 22, Tolomia 15, Hargrove 13, Pogoy 8, Dennison 5, Cruz 4, Tamsi 4, Jose 4, Iñigo 3, Ru. Escoto 0, Ri. Escoto 0.
Quarter scores: 14-16, 35-35, 58-54, 81-78.
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