KIEFER Ravena came up with big plays in the clutch and lifted defending champion Ateneo to a morale-boosting 61-57 victory over hard-fighting University of Santo Tomas Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum as the Blue Eagles ended their first round campaign in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament on a winning note.
Ravena scored on a driving lay-up entering the final two minutes of the game before the Ateneo star came up with a huge defensive play that averted any possible momentum swing on the side of the Tigers.
The Ateneo guard, coming off a sprained right ankle that hampered his play early in the first round, finished the game with 13 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals in an all-around effort.
Ateneo recorded its third win in seven outings following a 0-3 start to its season.
More importantly, the Eagles are now stalking teams that are tied in the middle of the standings following the grind-out victory against Tigers.
The match was the first in the league between the two teams after the Eagles completed a two-game sweep of the Tigers last season to win their fifth straight title.
Ateneo coach Bo Perasol likes Ateneo’s current position as the team – and the league – goes into a break for the country’s hosting of the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship.
“It was tough thinking about going up against UST knowing that we need to get a win before we go into a long break,” said Perasol. “You could just imagine what our hearts and minds are going to be if we lost the game.”
“But I know deep inside that if we can just get our acts together, there is a possibility because Kiefer is already healthy and I know that we can always give anybody a tough fight,” said the Ateneo rookie mentor.
UST remained in second place with a 4-3 win-loss slate but are now tied with University of the East.
Adamson can still move to second place and join UST and UE with a victory over league leader Far Eastern University in Sunday’s first game.
Also with a shot at joining second place is the winner of the La Salle-National University in the second game.
After trailing by double digits, UST was on the verge of making a comeback following a five-point swing by Ed Daquioag, who soared for a two-handed slam dunk and completed a three-point play as the Tigers threatened at 49-46.
Daquioag scored on another lay-up to make it 56-53.
But Ravena scored off Daquioag when he drove to the basket for a five-point Ateneo cushion.
Then, he blocked Daquioag’s three-point attempt with 38.4 seconds to play for the game’s biggest defensive play.
The Tigers were able to trim the gap to just two on a triple by Tata Bautista, 59-57, after it was confirmed the shot was a three-pointer following a long video review.
Chris Newsome split his two charities, but Kevin Ferrer missed two good looks from beyond the arc in UST’s next two possessions.
The Eagles got off to a good start, taking a 19-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, but only scored eight in the second that allowed the Tigers back into the game.
Ateneo (61) -- Ravena 13, Newsome 10, Tiongson 9, Buenafe 9, Golla 8, Capacio 4, Pessumal 3, Tolentino 2, Erram 2, Elorde 1.
UST (57) -- Mariano 16, Daquioag 12, Bautista 11, Ferrer 9, Abdul 6, Lo 3, So 0, Pe 0, Hainga 0.
Quarterscores: 19-6; 27-21; 47-39; 61-57.