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Ateneo extends dominance over UP to 13 games

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The Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles have started the second round by peaking at the right time.

The Blue Eagles extended their winning streak to four games with a victory over the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, their 13th straight win over their Katipunan neighbors, early Wednesday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The Fighting Maroons started the game with an early 4-0 lead through Cheick Kone and Agustini Amar. The Blue Eagles struggled from the field in the opening stages as they only got their first field goal at the 6:39 mark of the first quarter, with a Ponso Gotladera jumpshot. After an Amar three-pointer gave UP a 9-6 lead, the Blue Eagles hit their Katipunan neighbors with a 13-2 run through G-Boy Babilonia and first-year guard Adrian Wong.

Ateneo increased their lead to a game-high 19 points in the second quarter, as the duo of Kiefer Ravena and Arvin Tolentino scored eight apiece for the Blue Eagles. Moreover, the Ateneo bench was able to score 14 of the 26 second quarter points. On the other end, the Fighting Maroons shot a miserable 28% from the field in the half, including just 1/11 from downtown. Second leading scorer Paul Desiderio added to the UP struggle as he was held scoreless, converting none of three attempts, while Jett Manuel was just 1/5 from the field in the half.

After the break, the Fighting Maroons switched their defense to a full court press that surprised the Blue Eagles. The Katipunan cagers were limited to just nine points in the quarter, on just 3/8 shooting from the field. Moreover, Manuel, Desiderio, and Diego Dario combined for 12 points that cut the Ateneo lead to just ten, 54-44, entering the final quarter.

Through the hot-shooting of Wong, the Blue Eagles were able to re-extend the lead to 19 midway through the final quarter. Ravena and Chibueze Ikeh put on the finishing touches as the Blue Eagles extended their streak over the Fighting Maroons to 13 games, winning 74-65.

“I feel like we started really well,” Coach Bo Perasol said after the game. “We talked in the dugout about the run that UP was going to make after halftime and [fortunately] we had good composure in the third quarter.”

Perasol also complimented the performance of Filipino-American Wong, who scored 14 points on 5/8 shooting. “We didn’t have a good offensive game by Von [Pessumal]. Wong stepped up for us.”

For Ravena, this was a good outing for the team before their big game against La Salle on Sunday, November 8. “After a ten day break, we benefited from it. Sabi namin UP is gonna play hard. At least now we could prepare well for La Salle kasi fresh talaga sila.”

Ravena again led the scoring for the Blue Eagles with 16 points on 7/15 shooting. The league leader in assists also dished out five dimes in this game. His fellow Smart Elite ambassador finished with just five points but was able to grab seven boards in 25 minutes of action.

Diego Dario scored 13 points but was just 5/17 shooting. Smart Elite ambassador Jett Manuel scored ten points on a horrible 2/13 clip.

As a team, the Blue Eagles shot an efficient 51.67% from the field compared to just 33.78% for the Diliman cagers. They were also able to assist on 16 of their 31 made field goals.

The Ateneo Blue Eagles (8-4) will face their rivals, the DLSU Green Archers, on Sunday, November 8 at 4:00pm while the UP Fighting Maroons (3-8) face the NU Bulldogs on the same day at 11:00am. Both games will be played at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:
ADMU (74) – Ravena 16, Wong 14, Tolentino A 8, Gotladera 6, Ikeh 6, Nieto 5, Pessumal 5, Babilonia 4, Capacio 4, Black 2, Tolentino V 2, Go 2.
UP (65) – Dario 13, Amar 11, Manuel 10, Desiderio 8, Kone 7, Harris 4, Moralde 4, Vito 4, Gallarza 2, Lim 2, Asilum 0, Jaboneta 0, Juruena 0, Longa 0.
Quarterscores: 19-11, 45-26, 54-44, 74-65

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Raymond Almazan ejected in return

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Photo by PBA Images

It was supposed to be a redemption game for Raymond Almazan after he was benched last Wednesday for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters against the Phoenix Fuel Masters, for disciplinary reasons. But unfortunately, it went the the other way around.

The six-foot-eight center was ejected in the Elasto Painters’ match versus Kia Picanto on Friday evening at the Cuneta Astrodome, following a near-brawl that took place between him and opposing big man Eric Camson.

The incident took place with 3:01 remaining in the second quarter, with the Picanto ahead 34-31. Almazan and Camson were both inside the paint looking for position to grab the missed three-pointer of Jeremy King.

Things then went chippy afterwards, as Camson elbowed Almazan. It did not sit well with the latter and he retaliated, leading to the near-brawl that saw both players swing their arms at each other.

Almazan and Camson had to be separated by their teammates and officials. Moments later, both of them were whistled for a flagrant foul penalty two and were ordered to leave the playing court for good.

Almazan finished with six points and three rebounds in six minutes and 10 seconds of action, while Camson exited the bout with 10 markers, five rebounds, and four assists in over 16 minutes of playing time.

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Fired-up Von Pessumal on Kiefer Ravena incident: ‘I’m not here to make any friends’

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Will bridges be burned?

Von Pessumal was heavily-scrutinized Friday evening after an incident with fellow Ateneo lifer Kiefer Ravena.

It took place with 9:50 left in the final frame of the San Miguel Beermen’s highly-charged tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors. After Marcio Lassiter launched a trey, Pessumal looked like he was aiming for the rebound. Instead, he simply charged towards Ravena and pushed him down.

Lassiter’s three-pointer counted, while Pessumal, who was blocked by Ravena in a fastbreak and then received a staredown moments prior, was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul.

It was a surprising sight to see considering the amount of time he and Ravena have spent together — a bond that started ever since they were in high school. Even the second-generation star admitted that he did not expect that from his former running buddy.

“I did not expect that at all,” said the NLEX rookie.

But Pessumal downplayed such incident despite attempts by scribes to make him elaborate what had really transpired during that moment.

“It’s part of the game. It’s part of the game,” the league sophomore said after the match which they won 109-98. “I don’t wanna say anything, I’m sorry.

“It’s part of the game. Whatever move on. Not a big deal.”

Asked if he was motivated to face Ravena, whom he had shared three UAAP juniors titles, two UAAP seniors crowns, and a SEA Games gold medal with, the 24-year-old shared that he approached Friday’s bout the way he usually does.

“I wouldn’t say motivated [versus Kiefer], I mean, it’s just like any other game. When I play, I don’t see who’s guarding me, I just play,” said the 6-foot-2 swingman.

“I play to win all the time.”

The incident he and Ravena figured in shadowed his performance of 10 points on 50 percent shooting off the bench — the second time he had scored in double figures this season. After Friday, Pessumal is averaging 8.25 points.

“We have to sustain the level of excellence that they (starters) have. Our job is — I wouldn’t say support, but — when we get in, we should bring the level higher so when they come back, the game is easier for them,” he said.

Pessumal was then asked if he and Ravena met each other after the buzzer sounded as the two did not even shake hands after the contest. But, through a short yet strong response, the 24-year-old said that they did not.

“I wouldn’t say anything. I don’t know, after the game?,” he expressed.

“I’m a professional basketball player, I’m not here to make any friends.”

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Yeng Guiao denies using racial slur against Chris Ross

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During the post-game of the San Miguel Beermen’s victory over the NLEX Road Warriors, reigning Coach of the Year Leo Austria said that NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao had called Chris Ross the “N” word, which had caused the commotion.

According to Chris, tinawagan siya ng nigger or ganiyan,” said Austria. “I don’t know but that’s what he explained to me because I confronted Chris Ross because he’s one of the most important players in my team.

“But that’s the thing he doesn’t want to hear so nag-flare up yung bata so I cannot blame him.”

However, Guiao denied that he blurted out racial slurs against San Miguel’s Chris Ross.

“Hindi. Hindi ko tinawag na N-word. Ewan ko kung may nakarinig. Pero hindi,” clarified the fiery tactician moments after their 98-109 defeat, their third straight after starting the 2018 Philippine Cup with two straight wins.

That tussle, according to Guiao, was just filled with trash talking against each other, as he had felt the need to retaliate. In fact, Guiao was even caught by the TV camera saying “son of a bitch” towards the Filipino-American point guard.

“Daldal siya ng daldal eh. Eh sa akin naman kapag ganon, siguro respeto nalang. Lumayo ka nalang tutal mananalo naman na kayo,” he said. “I didn’t understand what he was saying, what he was talking about.

“Nakipagtrash-talking din ako sa kanya.”

Furthermore, the 58-year-old was also caught by the cameras flipping the bird — in one quick motion — also directed at Ross.

“Oo. Kasama na rin yun.

“Pero ano naman eh, it’s part of, siguro, psychological warfare. Malakas din siya mang-asar. Hindi lang naman sa amin. Everytime naman na mga ganoong skirmishes, he also knows what he’s capable of,” the seven-time champion coach furthered.

But more than this scuffle, it has been a stressful time for Guiao and the Road Warriors. They have now gone down to 2-3 in the team standings, and the mentor sees an urgent need to end this slump immediately.

“We have to arrest it very soon. Ang susunod na laro namin ay versus Rain or Shine sa Friday. So we need to go back to 50 percent win-loss level para at least may chance ka na maka-playoffs. That’s going to be a crucial game for us,” he stressed.

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Kiefer Ravena shocked with Von Pessumal’s shove: ‘I did not expect that at all’

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Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal have been teammates ever since they were in high school, winning three UAAP juniors crowns together. They won two championships together in the seniors level and even played together in Gilas. They were inseparable.

Friday evening however, they were playing for separate camps.

Ravena admitted that he never expected a shove to come from Pessumal during the NLEX Road Warriors’ clash with San Miguel Beermen.

In an off-ball situation, Pessumal charged at Ravena, sending the rookie down to the floor with 9:50 remaining in the final frame. He was then whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul, and Ravena sank one from the line.

“I did not expect that at all,” admitted Ravena after the match in which they lost, 98-109 — their third straight defeat after a 2-0 start. “But hopefully Von doesn’t take it personal.

“I’m just doing my job. They won the game.”

Ravena insisted that there wasn’t any physicality between him and Pessumal prior to that, but he thinks that his former Gilas teammate may have gotten irked by his staredown after blocking him on a fastbreak play early in the fourth.

“When that fastbreak happened — the same exact possession na I challenged him, I looked at him, and after that yun na yung nangyari,” said the 23-year-old guard. “But I never instigated something to provoke Von to do that.

“Probably nung tinignan ko siya.”

Moreover, the second overall pick of the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft felt that that incident “started all the commotions during the end game (laughs). Yun yung pinaka-una eh. And with that, the team got fired up and it worked for them.”

He may be right, for the game saw more skirmishes after that: from teammate Michael Miranda kicking Chris Ross to the groin, and with his head coach Yeng Guiao figuring in a heated verbal war also against Ross.

But then, Ravena made it clear that it was never a plan of his to put down somebody, especially someone like Pessumal who he sees as a brother for life.

“You know, Von and I, we go way back. Things like this hopefully don’t become too personal.

“I have no intention na ipapahiya yung tao or sasaktan mo yung tao. Wala namang ganun. Laro-laro lang,” said NLEX’s leading scorer.

It was somehow a night to remember for Ravena, but for all the wrong reasons. After Friday’s loss that sent their card to 2-3, the veteran internationalist now sees the need for him and the Road Warriors to push the panic button.

“‘Di na pwedeng sabihin palaging kailangan namin matuto eh. Pangatlong sunod na,” the second-generation cager expressed.

“Kailangan siguro naming umaksyon.”

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