ATENEO overcame the absence of key players to beat Naga College Foundation, 84-69, on Thursday at the start of its Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) Elite Eight campaign.
Thirdy Ravena had a near triple-double, finishing with 15 points, 14 rebounds, and nine assists for an Ateneo side that played with just nine players, one of which arrived during the third quarter.
Among the players who didn’t see action were UAAP Finals hero Isaac Go, Raffy Verano, Aaron Black, and Jolo Mendoza, but the Blue Eagles still had enough to jumpstart their title bid in the tournament.
Chibueze Ikeh, Vince Tolentino, and Kris Porter, all graduating players of Ateneo, were not included in the PCCL roster.
Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin attributed the player absences to their classes, but lauded the team for their effort.
“We just went out there and competed. We hit some shots, we got some turnovers. We just got guys that are a little bit more experienced,” said Baldwin.
“We just did enough to get by. We had a lot of guys out, they had classes today. We really had only eight guys in the game. But we had experienced players. They knew what they were doing,” he said.
Matt Nieto had 16 points while Gian Mamuyac added 13 points for the Blue Eagles.
Emmanuel Ojoula had 34 points and 14 rebounds for the NCF Tigers.
Ateneo 84 - Ma. Nieto 16, Ravena 15, Mamuyac 13, Asistio 12, Navarro 9, Mi. Nieto 6, Andrade 6, Tio 6, Malillin 1.
Naga College Foundation 69 - Ojoula 34, Allarey 14, Margallo 6, Hermonio 5, Mangubat 5, Lawas 2, Magpantay 2, Padua 1, Magistrado 0, Lapinid 0, Betito 0, Olayvar 0, Mendones 0, Baylon 0, Nebedum 0.
Quarterscores: 28-20; 48-41; 65-57; 84-69.