MANILA, Philippines – Thirdy Ravena and Ange Kouame came to the rescue as the Ateneo Blue Eagles flirted with disaster before eking out a 71-70 escape over the scrappy UST Growling Tigers in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, September 11.
Kouame sank one last layup for the 68-67 lead in the waning seconds before Thirdy Ravena added two charities off a duty foul with 11.6 ticks on the clock to preserve the Ateneo lead.
CJ Cansino hoisted a well-contested trey off the timeout which rimmed out. Matt Nieto was then fouled off the rebound and split his free throws to seal the deal for good even as veteran UST guard Renzo Subido nailed an inconsequential triple at the buzzer.
Ravena had his best outing yet with a team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Eagles, who grabbed the early solo lead at 3-0.
Kouame added an 11-marker, 10-board double-double while Gian Mamuyac chipped in 10 points off the bench.
Soulemane Chabi Yo, meanwhile, continued his dominant start off a game-best 25-point, 13-rebound, 2-block performance as UST fell to 2-1.
"We understood that game was going to be a really tough game. I feel fortunate we won the game," said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.
"That's the kind of game that you can credit the team as much as you want, talk about character, and all of that, but I think that every applaud you give your team, you give the other. That could have gone either way."
It was a game of runs in the first half as UST mustered a 37-33 comeback at intermission off a massive 21-4 run. Prior to that frame, the defending champs set the tone with a 23-13 1st quarter, ending with a 13-0 blitz.
The game then turned into a war of highlight reels as Rhenz Abando started the 4th quarter with a huge alley-oop jam, 58-53.
Kouame responded with a poster slam over Abando at the 7:20 mark before Chabi Yo got him right back with a putback dunk to end a 7-0 Ateneo run.
Subido then broke a 64-all deadlock with an open triple at the 3:39 mark before Ravena answered quickly with a layup to get within one, 66-67.
Ateneo 71 – Ravena 17, Kouame 11, Mamuyac 10, Navarro 8, Belangel 6, Maagdenberg 6, Ma. Nieto 5, Go 3, Wong 3, Mi. Nieto 2, Andrade 0, Daves 0, Tio 0.
UST 70 – Chabi Yo 25, Abando 9, Nonoy 9, Subido 9, Huang 6, Cansino 4, Concepcion 4, Ando 2, Paraiso 2, Bataller 0.
Quarters: 23-13, 33-37, 53-56, 71-70.