ATENEO wrapped up its roller-coaster run in the first round with a huge conquest yesterday.
Kiefer Ravena and Ryan Buenafe hit key shots down the stretch as the Ateneo Blue Eagles survived a fourth-quarter onslaught by the University of Santo Tomas Tigers for a 61-57 decision in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Even if we won by one point, 10 points or 20 points as long as we go up the standings,” said Ravena after the five-time champions improved to 3-4 while dealing a third loss in seven outings for the Tigers.
The Blue Eagles held on despite sinking only half of six free throws in the last 29 seconds as the Tigers came as close as within a basket, 59-57, despite a poor start where they fell back by as many as 15 points, 21-6.
“At the end of the day, it was our willingness to defend against a tough team like UST that made the difference there,” said Ateneo coach Bo Perasol
Earlier, Roi Sumang canned four free throws in the closing seconds as University of the East slipped past hard-luck University of the Philippines with a 62-57 decision.
Charles Mammie had a huge double-double of 17 points and 22 rebounds against the Maroons, who committed two crucial turnovers in the last 73 seconds that doomed their bid for a breakthrough win.
The Warriors ended their first-round campaign with three straight victories to climb to a share of second with the Tigers.
“I’m not happy with the win because I’ve been telling them that we can’t underestimate anybody,” said UE coach Boycie Zamar. “But I’m also happy because we need this kind of game.”
Ravena drained 13 points, the last on a free throw with 5.7 seconds left that gave the Eagles a four-point buffer in the thrilling rematch of last year’s finals that drew a crowd of over 14,000.
Chris Newsome came out with an all-around outing of 10 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Buenafe scored all but two of his nine points in the final period.
Sumang nailed four of six free throws inside the last 51.4 seconds for the final tally as the Maroons blew two chances to tie or take the lead on errors by Henry Asilum and Jason Ligad.
Meanwhile, the UAAP technical committee yesterday turned downed Adamson’s appeal for a replay of its controversial game against La Salle, but extended referee Francisco Olivar Jr.’s suspension from three to six games.
“Our protest was not approved because it was not technical in nature but a judgment call,” said Malu Isip, Adamson’s representative to the UAAP board. “But we’re satisfied with the decision. No more further appeal.”
League commissioner Chito Loyzaga had suspended Olivar for three games for an errant call in the dying seconds of the game won by La Salle over Adamson, 70-67, last Wednesday.
Ravena, who says he’s still at “70 percent” following an ankle injury early in the season, also had a key block on Ed Daquioag’s three-point attempt as the Eagles protected a precarious 58-54 lead with just 38.4 seconds left.
The Tigers, who only had six points in the first quarter, rallied from double-digit deficits in the fourth quarter behind Clark Bautista and Daquioag.
A Bautista triple, which was subjected to repeated reviews, pushed the Tigers within two, 59-57, with 21.3 ticks left.
Newsome then split his free throws, 60-57, but Kevin Ferrer missed two three-point attempts in the dwindling seconds.
“It was a tough, grind-it-out win for us,” said Ravena.
Aljon Mariano had 16 points and nine boards to pace the Tigers, who had a woeful first half where they committed 12 turnovers and shot 8-of-25 from the field.
“It was really tough thinking about going up against UST knowing that we need to get a win before we go to a long break,” said Perasol as the league plays its final weekend before giving way to the country’s hosting of Fiba Asia.
“Imagine what’s going to be in our hearts and minds in that long break if we lost that game.”
It was the first time in over a decade that the Eagles finished below the .500 mark at the end of the first round.
Sumang collected 10 markers, nine rebounds and five assists for the Warriors, who held the Maroons scoreless in the last 2:31 minutes after a 57-57 deadlock.
The Maroons—whose main man Joseph Marata shot a woeful 1-of-18 from the field–dropped all seven assignments in the first round.
Meanwhile, Far Eastern University goes for a sweep of the first round versus Adamson at 2 p.m., followed by the La Salle and National University duel at 4 p.m. today also at the Big Dome.
UE 62—Mammie 17, Sumang 10, Santos 8, Casajeros 8, Olivares 7, Noble 4, Jumao-as 3, Alberto 3, Javier 2, Sumido 0, Hernandez 0, Flores 0.
UP 57—Soyud 10, Gingerich 10, Gallarza 10, Ball 8, Ligad 6, Asilum 5, Marata 3, Wong 2, Paras 2, Pascual 1, Lao 0, Harris 0.
Quarters: 17-10, 29-20, 44-42, 62-57
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.
Quarters: 19-6, 27-21, 47-39, 61-57