Eagles struggle past Maroons, grab solo leadBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE VICTORY that secured Ateneo the solo lead didn’t quite satisfy coach Norman Black.
Banking on some lucky breaks in the end game, the Blue Eagles survived a gritty University of the Philippines, 73-66, to grab the top spot at 7-1 in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament yesterday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“It’s a win so I just have to take it and move on,” said Black. “But honestly, I’m definitely not satisfied with the way we played. We did not play very intelligently as a team. And we also did not play as a team. With FEU and La Salle coming up, we definitely have to play a lot better if we want to win.”
Kiefer Ravena pumped in 21 points, including a key three-point play that padded a slim 69-64 lead to 72-64 going into the last 26.8 seconds.
The Maroons nailed only one field goal in the final three minutes and sank only two of five free throw attempts that helped the Blue Eagles preserve their advantage.
“Good thing in the end we got lucky,” said Ravena, who also had five rebounds and a couple of assists. “UP wasn’t making any of its shots unlike in the first half, so breaks of the game went to us.”
Nico Salva and guard Tonino Gonzaga had 10 points each, while Greg Slaughter had nine on top of 13 rebounds and four blocks.
The Eagles also missed all of their five attempts from three-point range and had 19 turnovers, eight more than the Maroons.
“Today, we really struggled with our outside shots and even our inside game wasn’t very fluid,” said Black.
The Maroons’ seventh loss in eight games added to their woes as they face possible forfeiture of their only win with American player Chris Ball still to complete the league’s required eligibility documents (See related story on this page).
Ball, who averaged 7.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in the first round, wasn’t fielded the entire game.
ATENEO 73—Ravena 21, Salva 10, Gonzaga 10, Slaughter 9, Erram 9, Tiongson 6,Chua 3, Buenafe 3, Elorde 2, Sumalinog 0, Pessumal 0, Golla 0.
UP 66—Soyud 14, Silungan 13, Asilum 10, Lopez 8, Padilla 6, Gamboa 6, Gallarza 5, Montecastro 2, Hipolito 2, Mbah 0, Wierzba 0, Romero 0, Manuel 0.
Quarters: 17-17, 32-34, 53-46, 73-66