In a match marred with bricked shots, the Ateneo De Manila University Blue Eagles scrapped just enough to thwart a skidding Universe of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 56-43, for their fourth win in six games in the UAAP 78 Men’s Basketball tournament at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Both squads played sloppily to open the game. Ateneo’s Von Pessumal scored six quick points while UP’s Paul Desiderio drained three consecutive jumpers to momentarily hand UP the lead, 9-8. The Maroons’ offense then seized up, failing to make a field goal as the Blue Eagles’ defense consistently forced contested jumpers. Sophomore Arvin Tolentino hopped off the bench and scored six points in the first quarter, propelling Ateneo ahead, 17-9, before the second quarter.
The UP dry spell continued well into the second quarter. Save for a Henry Asilum charity, the Maroons snuffed all their shots until the last four minutes of the half. Ateneo capitalized on their neighbors’ futility, dropping nine points within the same span of time, pushing their lead up to 16, 26-10. UP big man Jerson Prado pulled the Maroons out of the ditch, rifling off seven consecutive points off sheer grit. But Ateneo’s bench mob scuffled together six points before to end the half with a 36-17 lead.
UP sizzled to start the second half but then fizzled away just as quickly. After the Maroons went on a 7-0, Ateneo hunkered down on defense and attacked the paint to get the pace to their liking again. Ateneo entered the final quarter on top comfortably, 45-31. A hot-shooting Dave Moralde was not enough to bring the Maroons back with Kiefer Ravena scoring seven points in the payoff period to clinch the Ateneo win.
The Ateneo bench was able to put up 25 points to the delight of Ateneo head coach Bo Perasol. “That’s the challenge for us. If we can get production from guys like John [Apacible], [Hubert] Cani, and Koko [Pingoy], it’s going to give Kiefer and Von a lot of help.”
Smart Elite ambassador, Ravena struggled early in the match, scoring only four points in the first three periods. Still, Ravena managed 11 points on a miserable 5/18 shooting clip, 11 boards, and four assists. Pessumal went 2/6 from beyond the arc and finished with 11 points. The Eagles shot a dainty 30% from the field, only managing to be a little worse than the Maroons who made just 24% of their shots.
“Darating din ‘yung time na sabay kaming maganda ‘yung laro. As long as we outscore the other team, we’ll be okay with just one of us shooting well,” Ravena said after the win.
Paul Desidrerio top-scored the match with 12 markers on 6/20 shooting and added eight boards. Former San Bed Cub, Dave Moralde followed with just nine points. Sweet-shooting Smart Elite ambassador Jet Manuel was held scoreless on seven shots.
Ateneo faces off with their arch rival DLSU on Sunday, October 4 at 4:00pm while UP battles Adamson on the same day at 11:00am.
Ateneo (56) – Ravena 11, Pessumal 11, Apacible 8, Tolentino A. 8, Nieto Ma. 4, Gotladera 4, Pingoy 2, Capacio 2, Ikeh 1, Tolentino V. 1, Black 1, Cani 0, Babilonia 0
UP (43) – Desiderio 12, Moralde 9, Prado 8, Amar 6, Asilum 5, Dario 2, Kone 1, Manuel 0, Lim 0, Harris 0, Gallarza 0, Longa 0, Vito 0, Jaboneta 0
Quarters: 17-9, 36-17, 45-31, 56-43.
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