Ateneo trio leads Blue Eagles past Fighting Maroons
MANILA, Philippines - The Ateneo De Manila Blue Eagles have won Season 77's first installment of the Battle of Katipunan, defeating the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 86-75, on Wednesday, July 23, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It was an impressive win for the Blue Eagles, who currently lead the league standings at 3-0 after getting 18 and 19 points from Chris Newsome and Kiefer Ravena, respectively.
The team's prized rookie recruit, Arvin Tolentino, meanwhile, had another strong output with 20 markers and 8 boards.
"There was no doubt in my mind he can have an impact right away. The best is yet to come for him," Ateneo coach Bo Perasol said about Tolentino after the game.
"Ang gusto ko lang yung team manalo. I don't care kung ma score ko 20, 10, or 0," Tolentino said after the game.
The third quarter opened with both clubs stroking it from the outside. Each time UP on converted jumpers, the Blue Eagles did the same, as Newsome upped his scoring output to 17 in the early goings.
However, the Maroons responded by getting the ball in the paint, where the Blue Eagles' lack of height allowed their opponents to convert easy baskets. With a little under five minutes to go, UP managed to cut the lead to two, 51-49, after a Kyles Lao basket.
Lao led the Maroons with 16 points while Rey Gallarza had 10.
In danger of losing the lead, Ateneo turned to Tolentino, who scored 4 of the next 5 ADMU points to keep UP out of arm's reach. Ravena then converted on consecutive plays, pushing the Blue Eagles lead up to 14, 63-49.
Ateneo forced a total of 20 UP turnovers which were converted to 24 points. They also out rebounded the Maroons, 42-32.
Despite having a deep bench, the Blue Eagles only got 22 points from the reserves.
"Our depth could be our weakest link in a sense that those coming off our bench are rookies and sophomores," said Perasol.
"It's also my responsibility to feel them in."
UP made one last stand in the fourth, getting within 4 at the 4:40 mark before some Ateneo free throws made the count 73-67. Continuous turnovers also stopped the Fighting Maroons from completing the comeback, as a Nico Elorde floater off a steal would seal the game.
"If not for the heroics of Arvin and Kiefer, it would have been trouble for us in the end," Perasol added.
"In the end, we were able to fight it out against a very determined UP team."
Ateneo came out scorching from the perimeter, using a pair of threes by Newsome and Tolentino to spearhead an early 8-3 run. However, UP answered back, pounding the ball inside to go on a 9-0 run and take a four-point lead.
Turning to their impressive press defense, the Blue Eagles managed to create enough Maroon turnovers to get back in the contest quick. 7 straight points by Moriah Gingerich made sure to keep the game tight, though, as the first quarter finished with ADMU ahead only by two, 23-21.
At the end of the first 12 minutes of action, Newsome led all scorers with 9 points.
The start of the second quarter didn't go well for UP, which kept turning the ball over to let Ateneo build an 8-point lead. What followed was an angry outburst from Fighting Maroons head coach Rey Madrid, who screamed at his troops to pass the ball more during a time-out.
Lao and company answered, as last year's rookie of the year helped keep his team in the game. Nonetheless, easy open jumpers for the Blue Eagles on the other end kept them on the driver's seat, 41-34, with 2:48 left in the first half.
Ateneo closed the second quarter with a four rookie lineup, and it stagnated their offense until Tolentino completed an and-one play. The rookie then failed to convert a buzzer-beater at the end of the period, but his team still had a 46-38 lead entering the half.
The Blue Eagles will look to remain unbeaten when it takes on the NU Bulldogs on Saturday, July 26. The Bulldogs can match Ateneo’s 3-0 mark if they defeat La Salle in the second game of the day. - Rappler.com