Ateneo clinches a rare ‘five peat’ at the expense of USTBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo clinched its fifth straight UAAP men’s basketball championship after defeating University of Santo Tomas, 65-62, in game two of the finals Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Kiefer Ravena knocked down a dagger of a jumpshot with under a minute left to cap a sizzling performance with 22 points, five rebounds and three assists.
“Kiefer [Ravena] made a crucial basket that separated us in the end. We were able to stop their players and we just had enough offense to win,” said head coach Norman Black.
For a moment there, it seemed that the Blue Eagles were ready to pull away after posting an eight-point lead with six minutes to go.
But when the Ateneo saw its lead cut down to just a bucket, Juami Tiongson and Ravena nailed back-to-back jumpers to fend off UST anew.
“Today was a great game. It really could’ve gone either way. This was really a close one compared to the other game,” said Black.
Greg Slaughter, who concluded his Blue Eagles’ stint with two titles, added 15 points and 11 rebounds while Tiongson chipped in 10 markers.
It’s the first time in the final four era that any team has clinched such a rare feat — and coach Norman Black is only the second coach to steer his team to a “five-peat.”
“Well, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” said an overwhelmed Black, whose moving on the PBA next week as Talk N’ Text’s head coach. “But it’s something I’m really proud of.”
The Blue Eagles also won by just a slim margin over the Growling Tigers, 83-78, in the first game — where a lot of issues between coaches sprung after.
“I have a lot of respect for coach Pido [Jarencio]. At the start of the season, I knew they were going to be here,” said Black.
And whatever friction the “word war” has created, it’s definitely a thing of the past for both coaches.
“Hats off to coach Norman [Black],” said Jarencio. “His departure is a big loss for Ateneo.”
Jeric Teng, Karim Abdul and Aljon Mariano — three of the players who shone for the Growling Tigers in game one — just didn’t produce enough this time out.
“Mariano had a subpar game,” said Jarencio as his forward only scored four points.
Jeric Fortuna, who along with Carmelo Afuang played their final game with UST, was determined to end their season on a decent note, finishing with 20 points.