This Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena, ADMU and UE’s superstars put on a duel for the ages. The Eagles’ MVP candidate Kiefer Ravena bolstered his credentials with a career game, posting a personal best 38 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists, in a tight, 93-91 victory over the hard-fighting Red Warriors. Roi Sumang would match Ravena shot-for-shot in the thrilling overtime affair, contributing his own record performance of 30 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. Ateneo finishes the first round of the tournament with a league-best 6-1 slate, while the 2-4 UE continue to languish near the bottom of the standings.
The Red Warriors, starved for success, blitzed the Blue Eagles from the opening tip. Charles Mammie, who finished with his first 18-13 double-double of UAAP Season 77, terrorized Ateneo’s frontline en route to 10 points and 5 boards, 4 on the offensive end, in the first quarter alone. 3 of his fellow UE starters, bannered by Pedrito Galanza, scored at least 4 as well in a balanced Warriors attack. Galanza would remain hot throughout the contest for the Warriors, eventually scoring 19 points in their losing effort. Their misfiring Ateneo counterparts struggled their way to 18.2% shooting from the field, leaving them down 28-10 as the buzzer signalled the end of the first period.
The Eagles chipped away UE’s imposing advantage in the second period behind the indomitable Kiefer Ravena, whose relentless drives earned him trip after trip to the charity stripe. Ateneo’s superstar gunner sank 6 of his 8 free-throw attempts, along with 2 field goals, for a game-leading 12 points. UE’s own talisman, Roi Sumang, appeared to shake off his season-long woes as well, pumping in 8 points in the quarter to keep his Red Warriors still comfortably ahead of the Blue Eagles, 44-31. Tensions rose midway through the quarter when Ateneo rookie forward Arvin Tolentino, frustrated by the shifty Sumang’s scoring binge, threw a forearm across the shooting guard’s face, earning him a potentially ROY-disqualifying unsportsmanlike foul. Thankfully, both teams kept their emotions in check to finish the half, leaving UE with their double-digit advantage.
The second half would see Sumang and Ravena’s duel heat up, and the game tighten. Ravena would open the third quarter by personally fuelling a 9-2 run to cut UE’s lead to a nervy 46-42. The King Eagle would sweetly dish to Gideon Babilonia for the second half’s 1st basket, before contributing a steal, a three, and 4 freebies, in that stretch. Chris Newsome, who posted a near double-double of 18 points (4/8 FGs) and 9 rebounds, and the on-fire Von Pessumal, a sizzling 6/7 from three for 19 points, further tightened the screws on the wavering Warriors. Roi Sumang answered with 8 points of his own in the third, burying a triple as time wound down in the period. Sumang’s marksmanship would keep UE ahead of the ADMU, 64-55, with the fourth quarter left to play.
Sumang and Ravena would elevate their battle even further in the decisive period. The increasingly confident Roi Sumang would sink back-to-back daggers from distance to push UE ahead 70-57 with 7 minutes to play. 8 points from the unflappable Ravena and 6 from his long-time teammate Pessumal would drag the Eagles to within 3 points of the Warriors, 78-75. Sumang again would respond with a difficult jumper to put the Red Warriors in the drivers’ seat, 80-75, with only around a minute to play. A quick Newsome And-1 and UE turnover would give Ateneo the ball with 30s on the clock. Naturally, Ravena nailed the game-tying jumper to force the game into overtime. His 29 points in regulation would tie his career-high in scoring, while Roi Sumang’s similarly impressive 26 was but 1 point shy of his own personal record.
In overtime, the duelling guards would finally etch their titanic battle into UAAP lore. Ateneo’s starring trio of Ravena, Newsome and Pessumal combined to give the Eagles an 88-85 advantage with just a minute left in the extra period. With Sumang tightly marking him, Ravena would then elevate to swish a cold-blooded three over his rival. Ateneo’s 91-85 cushion only served as the stage for additional heroics, as Roi Sumang stormed down the court to nail an unbelievably clutch 3-point shot to trim the lead to 3. On UE’s next offensive possession, Sumang would slice through the Ateneo defence before threading a perfect pass to Charles Mammie for the slam. A solitary point would be as close as the Warriors would get however, as a pair of Ravena free-throws iced the game for the Eagles. Scattered “MVP! MVP!” chants would echo down from the rafters as the exhausted, victorious Ravena left the court.