Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal combined for a total of 50 points, while Alfonso Gotladera added 17, including crucial baskets in the final quarter, to lead the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles over archrivals De la Salle University Green Archers, 97-86 open their UAAP Season 77 campaign with a 2-0 lead in the standings.
The Blue Eagles struggled early in the game, trailing as much as 13-4 in the first quarter. Ravena and Pessumal would come alive late in the period, but were unable to stifle a La Salle scoring barrage led by Jeron Teng and Jason Perkins.
Trailing 17-22 to enter the second quarter, Ravena and Pessumal’s continued assault boosted the Eagles to their first taste of the lead, 29-28, halfway through the quarter. The team from Katipunan Avenue and the team from Taft would trade leads for the rest of the period, but baskets from Alfonso Gotladera and Arvin Tolentino late in the quarter would give Ateneo the means finish the first half with a 39-37 lead.
A heated third quarter saw the two archrivals trade basket after basket, with Pessumal’s heroics giving the Blue Eagles the 50-43 lead in the midway. Almond Vosotros and Jason Perkins boosted the La Salle cause late in the third to trim the Blue Eagles’ lead and head into the final period of regulation trailing by a mere two points, 59-61.
The former Rookie of the Year Kiefer Ravena came into the fourth quarter with guns blazing, and sink a string of three-pointers in the opening minutes to boost Ateneo to a 72-66 lead halfway in the quarter. Ravena, Tolentino, and Gotladera would collaborate in the next few minutes to give the Blue Eagles an 85-71 lead with less than three minutes remaining. Despite several attempts to trim the lead and mount a late comeback from Almond Vosotros and Jason Perkins, Gotladera would capitalize from a string of La Salle fouls and sink crucial free throws in the final two minutes to secure the victory for Ateneo.
Ravena had 29 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals to lead Ateneo, while Von pessumal had 21 points and 5 boards. Unlikely hero Alfonso Gotladera had 17 points along 8 rebounds.
Jason Perkins had 25 points and 10 rebounds in his second straight double-double performance for the Green Archers. Almond Vosotros had 17 points, while Jeron Teng had 15 points and 10 boards. Last year’s champion De La Salle now fall to a 0-2 hole, having lost to the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in last week’s opener.
“When I go to the dugout, eto yung emphasis ko palagi. This is just another win. Hindi siya times two, or times three.”, said Bo Perasol at the post-game conference. “This is just one win. ‘Di naman ‘to 4-0 slate. This is a 2-0 slate. Hindi naman ako Atenista, hindi ko alam ang sidestory ng Ateneo at La Salle. But I know they’re very proud ngayon na panalo sila. But for me as a coach and a non-Atenean, that’s just one win.”