ATENEO rode Kiefer Ravena’s superb showing throughout to survive Letran, 88-81, in a highly physical encounter in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup at The Arena in San Juan on Monday.
The 19-year-old junior guard got back on track after a woeful game in their loss to UAAP rival University of Santo Tomas last Saturday as he delivered an all-around performance, highlighted by a game-high 33 points, to lead the Eagles to their fourth win in five games.
Ravena, who wound up with just seven points on 3-of-18 shooting against the Tigers, was on target against the Knights, going 10-of-16 from the field and 12-of-14 from the foul line, on top of six rebounds, five assists, and two steals.
“I was excited to play. And hearing the likes of Rey Nambatac who’s fresh from high school, I was challenged also,” Ravena said. “I knew what he could do inside the court. Nakita naman natin. He immediately contributed to the team.
"I was just raring to bounce back together with my teammates.”
Nambatac, the former NCAA juniors MVP, impressed in his first game for the Knights while trying to fill the void left by former star guard Kevin Alas as he tallied a team-high 19 points, making all but one of his 11 free throw attempts for the Knights.
He also capped a comeback from a 16-point deficit with a right-corner triple that pulled the Knights within 87-81 with 56.2 seconds remaining.
The homegrown Letran cager's effort, however, went for naught in the Knights' first game in this preseason tournament under coach Caloy Garcia.
“We have to mature as a team in the endgame,” Eagles coach Bo Perasol said. “We didn’t learn our lesson also in this game because we committed two straight turnovers in the end. We could’ve closed it earlier, but we turned it over.
"It’s going to take some time for us to build that kind of character. We have to learn in together so we can enjoy it together.”
Ateneo 88 – Ravena 33, Newsome 13, Pessumal 9, Golla 8, Babilonia 8, Elorde 7, Tiongson 6, Tolentino 2, Asistio 2, Lim 0, Murphy 0
LETRAN 81 – Nambatac 19, Cruz 18, Belorio 12, Almazan 11, Luib 9, Gabawan 5, Castro 4, Dysam 3, Almario 0, Buenaflor 0, Ruaya 0, Publico 0
Quarterscores: 31-20, 44-35, 75-62, 88-81