With leading scorers Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal facing constant pressure from the opposition defense, rookies Aaron Black and Adrian Wong supplied the added punch needed by the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles to avenge their first round loss in a 73-62 victory over rivals the De La Salle University Green Archers to keep pace with the league’s leaders early Sunday morning at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The Green Archers, playing with a sense of urgency, blasted the Blue Eagles with a huge 23-13 spurt in the opening quarter. Through Jeron Teng and the hot-shooting of Joshua Torralba, the Archers were able to start the game with a 12-5 spurt. Moreover, the defense of Torrlba on Kiefer Ravena limited the Smart Elite ambassador to just a single field goal in the first 12 minutes. Prince Rivero then led the DLSU bench to close out the quarter, while foreign student-athlete Chibueze Ikeh helped the Blue Eagles keep pace.
Ikeh started the second quarter with a huge block on seldom-utilized Andrew Langston, which led to a three-point play conversion by Von Pessumal. That helped spark a 9-2 Ateneo rally, capped by free throws by Adrian Wong that cut the La Salle lead to three, 25-22, with 7:23 remaning. After a Juno Sauler timeout brought back Teng and Thomas Torres in the game, La Salle rallied with a 9-2 run of their own, with Torres scoring four markers in that span. After Torres found Muyang to extend the La Salle lead to ten once more, conversions by Matt Nieto, Ravena, and Ponso Gotladera closed the quarter with Ateneo chopping the lead to five, 35-30, entering the break.
Riding the momentum Ateneo gained before the break, Ravena went hard to the rim to score his team’s first four points. A block by Pessumal on Muyang then led to a triple by the sharpshooter to give Ateneo a 40-37 lead. At the 4:48 mark, and with La Salle limited to just a single field goal so far, Filipino-American Langston was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on a fast-breaking Ravena that led to two free throws for the Ateneo skipper. The Blue Eagles continued their aggression on both ends of the floor, with Wong scoring six more points to close out the quarter. On the other end, the Blue Eagles furiously double-teamed Teng and Rivero underneath, forcing turnovers and blank shots that limited the Archers to just 9 third quarter points. The Blue Eagles held a 53-44 lead to enter the final frame.
Fouls plagued the Green-and-White squad at the start of the fourth, as Teng and Torres were penalized with their fourth fouls respectively in just 1:26 in the quarter. With those two on the bench, Rivero and Jason Perkins helped cut the lead to just five, 55-50, with 7:10 to go. Turnovers by the Archers’ inexperienced unit helped Pessumal and Black extended the led to nine once more. At the 5:54 mark, starting point guard Matt Nieto fell awkwardly, clutching his right knee. With Ateneo holding a 64-55 lead with 3:35 left, leading scorer Jeron Teng fouled out of the game after a loose ball scramble with Black. Undeterred, La Salle were able to cut the lead to just five with free throw splits by Caracut and Rivero, 0:31 on the clock. Ateneo took the inbound, but then Torres’ foul on Pessumal was assessed as unsportmanlike and resulted in Torres’ fifth foul as well. Free throws by Pessumal and Ravena closed out the game with Ateneo winning its fifth straight 73-62.
“I think this is a good way to cap out tumultuous week,” Ateneo head coach Bo Perasol said after the game. “For me, emotionally, [this win] was anti-climatic after everything we went through.”
“We are spent emotionally. Buti na lang nagsettle-down yung team.”
Moreover, Perasol added that this win was important since they still can keep pace with the top teams in the league. “Our job is not yet done but we need to celebrate the little victories,” he added.
Ravena then added that this win was special after everything they have gone through. “We took everything positively. In the first half, they wanted it more. Nagalit si coach sa amin and we responded on both ends.”
Von Pessumal led the Blue Eagles with 17 markers, including two triples, and was able to grab six boards. Ravena, even in shooting just 4/15 in the field, had 15 markers. Bench players Aaron Black and Adrian Wong scored 13 and 10 respectively to complement the production of their co-captains.
For the Archers, Smart Elite ambassador Prince Rivero grabbed a double-double in scoring 16 points and grabbing nine boards. He was 6/11 from the field and 4/7 from the foul stripe. Teng, limited to just 26 minutes of action, added 11 points on just 5/13 shooting.
As a team, the Blue Eagles shot better from the field at 40% compare to 37% by their rivals. The Blue Eagles also outrebounded La Salle 48-34 leading to a 10-0 second chance point advantage for Ateneo.
The Ateneo Blue Eagles (9-4) play their final game of the season on Saturday, November 14 against the UE Red Warriors at 2:00pm, while the DLSU Green Archers (5-7) fight for their Final Four lives as they face the UP Fighting Maroons on Wednesday, November 11 at 4:00pm.
ADMU (73) – Pessumal 17, Ravena 15, Black 13, Wong 10, Nieto Ma. 6, Gotladera 5, Ikeh 4, Go 2, Capacio 1, Babilonia 0, Cani 0, Tolentino A. 0, Tolentino V. 0.
DLSU (62) – Rivero 16, Teng 11, Perkins 8, Torralba 8, Muyang 6, Torres 6, Caracut 5, Go 2, Langston 0, Navarro 0, Tratter 0.
Quarterscores: 13-23, 30-35, 53-55, 73-62.
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