KIEFER Ravena sank two clutch baskets to bail out Ateneo before it held on for a 74-70 double overtime victory over National University on Wednesday in a UAAP Season 78 seniors basketball tournament thriller at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Ravena struggled offensively all game long but was spot-on when he had to. He hit a step-back three-pointer with 5.3 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 57-all and the reigning MVP's drive with 5.7 seconds to play set the stage for a second extra period.
With one more Ravena free throw and fastbreak basket, the exhausted Blue Eagles eventually secured their second win in three games while keeping the reigning champions winless through three games.
"What can I say? It was a grind," said Ateneo coach Bo Perasol.
Ravena finished with 21 points on a woeful 7-of-26 from the field. But Nigerian player Chibueze Ikeh stepped up in the extra period, scoring 14 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, including 14 from the offensive end.
The win ended a run of six straight Blue Eagles defeats to the Bulldogs, who beat them four times last season alone to overcome a twice-to-beat disadvantage in the Final Four on the way to the championship.
“Number one, I don’t think we could have won it without the heroics of Kiefer — twice,” said Perasol before praising Ikeh. “He stepped up today and proved that he belongs to the team.”
NU appeared headed for a win after Gelo Alolino’s free throws opened a 57-54 lead with 16.7 seconds to play. Ravena, however, converted his only three-pointer of the game to force overtime to the delight of the Ateneo gallery.
Ravena extended the game once again, going past Pao Javelona before scoring on a tough lay-up for a 62-62 tie.
It was all Ateneo from there as the Blue Eagles went on a 6-0 run to start the second overtime, four coming from free throws by Ikeh.
Alolino finished with 19 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs, who had to play in overtime without a fouled-out Alfred Aroga. The Cameroonian center finished with 14 points while Kyle Neypes, who also incurred five fouls in the game, added 11 for NU.
Ateneo (74) — Ravena 21, Ikeh 14, Pingoy 9, Pessumal 8, Apacible 6, A. Tolentino 6, Gotladera 4, Babilonia 2, Cani 2, Ma. Nieto 2, Black 0, Mi. Nieto 0, V. Tolentino 0, Wong 0.
NU (70) — Alolino 19, Aroga 14, Neypes 11, Celda 6, Abatayo 5, Javelona 5, Tansingco 4, Alejandro 2, Diputado 2, Salim 2, Javillonar 0, Lastimosa 0, Rangel 0.
Quarterscores: 13-11, 27-24, 42-43, 57-57, 62-62, 74-70.