Perasol: Ateneo got its bearings back
MANILA, Philippines — It didn't come easy, but the Ateneo Blue Eagles are finally gaining much-needed confidence 4 games into the men's basketball tournament of UAAP Season 78.
"I think we had gotten our bearings back," head coach Bo Perasol declared after the Eagles notched a 77-72 win over the UE Red Warriors on Saturday, September 19 at the Mall of Asia Arena. "In a way, whatever it is that we can do, we're trying to push it right now."
It was Ateneo's third straight victory after absorbing a harrowing 88-64 defeat at the hands of last year's finalists and this season's favorites FEU Tamaraws on opening weekend.
The Eagles certainly looked more sure of themselves and each other in the last couple of games.
They turned back the relentless Warriors as veteran Von Pessumal finally found his shooting touch with 6 three-pointers and reigning UAAP MVP Kiefer Ravena gained more composure as a finisher with key baskets to weather UE's rally. Pessumal finished with a game-high 21 points and Ravena had a near triple-double of 15 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists.
Ateneo is also quite the composed team coming off a character win from overcoming defending champions NU Bulldogs in double overtime.
But Perasol refuses to be blinded by 3 straight successes.
"I'm not saying we are in our highest potentials," he cautioned. "I believe we can do better, especially those who are contributing aside from Von and Kiefer.
"I know that in the games to come, there will be revelations in some of my players. It's just a matter of time. But yes, we feel confident right now and that's important to us."
Perasol, who praised UE saying he would not be surprised if the rookie-laden team made a serious run to the Final Four, admitted Ateneo is growing weary from the tough schedule where they played 3 games in 7 days.
Exhaustion, he said, likely had an affect against the speedy Warriors as the Eagles allowed their foes to come back from 17 points down and threaten in the endgame.
"I think we have to do a better job closing out games but we have to learn that as a team," he noted. "Right now we're just happy we could have at least a day or two for these guys to rest."
Ateneo will put its win streak on the line after a week-long break when they take on league leaders UST Growling Tigers on Saturday, September 26.
"The days of rest, practice and preparation will be critical for us," Perasol said. — Rappler.com