MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo ground out a 61-57 triumph over University of Santo Tomas, in a meeting of last year’s finalists, Saturday in the UAAP season 76 men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles had to lean on their composure down the stretch when the Growling Tigers, shrugging off a dismal opening quarter, came barging back to within two points.
Ryan Buenafe and Kiefer Ravena’s timely buckets — accounting for eight of the Eagles’ last 12 points — in the last five minutes of the game kept Ateneo in the driver’s seat.
Ravena also put a stop on sparkplug Ed Daquioag in the last minute, including a huge block on the Tiger guard’s triple attempt, which could’ve brought UST to within a point, with 38.4 ticks left.
“He brought back stability when he came back,” said head coach Bo Perasol. “During crunch time we need stability. That’s what Kiefer, Ryan and our veterans bring.”
Ravena finished with a team-high 13 points, but on 2-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. He also had eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“It was a tough, grind it out win for us. You have to give them credit. UST gave us a very tough fight,” Ravena said, whose squad led by as many as 15, 21-6.
The Blue Eagles tote a 3-4 card – half a game behind La Salle, National University and Adamson, which are tied at 3-3.
The Tigers, which absorbed their third setback, was unable to lead in the game, which saw them score just six in the first period.
The closest that UST got was 57-59 on a triple by Clark Bautista with 21.3 seconds left in the fourth period.
Aljon Mariano kept the Tigers in the first three quarters of the game as he churned out 16 markers before going scoreless in the fourth.
Daquioag, meanwhile, added 12 points, with seven in the fourth, including a huge throwdown from the baseline with 6:09 in the game, which he followed up with a left corner triple.