VON Pessumal unloaded five three-pointers to propel Ateneo to its fifth win via a 77-72 decision over University of the East on Wednesday in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup at The Arena in San Juan.
Pessumal finished with 19 points, capping his heroics with a big three-pointer that cooled off a searing UE rally as the Blue Eagles finally ended their run of losses against the much-improved Red Warriors.
Ateneo (5-1) remained on top of Group B with one game to go on Friday against Lyceum before they interrupt their stint in the preseason tournament to go to the United States for their annual training.
Pessumal's triple near the five-minute mark pushed Ateneo’s lead to 71-66 before Kiefer Ravena, who topscored for the Blue Eagles with 23 points, put the game away with a jumper with 1:42 left for a 76-70 advantage.
“I think that my team has made a new definition of the word gritty with the way they played,” said Ateneo coach Bo Perasol.
“That’s the way I saw the game. They were so persistent and gritty. They were aware that they are undermanned but they didn’t mind.”
The Blue Eagles finally won a game against the Red Warriors, who had beaten the Katipunan-based squad in the second round of the UAAP and in the University Games in Bacolod City in their previous match-ups.
“They lost two in a row to UE. I have yet to remember Ateneo losing three straight to any team … They accepted the challenge,” Perasol said.
UE had a 61-58 lead entering the fourth but was still very much in contention after cutting Ateneo’s lead to 67-66 on Charles Mammie’s undergoal stab. But the Red Warriors only made one field goal after that.
Roi Sumang tallied 18 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Mammie, playing in his first game in the tournament after missing last week’s match-up against Southwestern University, had 12 points for UE (1-1).
Ateneo (77) – Ravena 23, Pessumal 19, Elorde 14, Golla 8, Newsome 6, Murphy 3, Tiongson 2, Tolentino 2, Asistio 0, Lim 0, Babilonia 0.
UE (72) – Sumang 18, Mammie 12, Noble 8, Jumao-as 7, Javier 6, Bonleon 5, Santos 4, Casajeros 4, Olivarez 4, Guion 2, Flores 2, Sumido 0.
Quarterscores: 15-15; 43-37; 58-61; 77-72.