Battling a fever from the night before and with his team down 16 points in the third quarter, Smart Elite ambassador Kevin Ferrer threw bomb after bomb to hijack the game, 68-58, early Saturday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Hotshot Von Pessumal started on fire, as the momentum he gained from their previous game against the Adamson Soaring Falcons carried over in the early minutes of the game. The Ateneo senior scored seven of the team’s first nine points that gave the Katipunan cagers a 9-4 lead early on. Slowly, Santo Tomas senior, Kevin Ferrer, scored four straight points to cut the lead to just one. Then, a steal by Marvin Lee led to an easy layup for the lead. All the while, the Ateneo V could not find their groove on offense, shooting blanks and failing to move the ball. Free throws by Jeepy Faundo and Marvin Lee closed the quarter with UST up 12 to 9.
Due to his frustration with the game, Von Pessumal was called for a technical foul early in the second quarter. This fired up the Blue Eagles as Ravena, Matt Nieto, and the seldomly used, Arvin Tolentino, all poured in baskets to regain the lead 19-18. The Blue Eagles absorbed all long baskets thrown by Ferrer in the quarter, as Ravena and Pessumal teamed up to gain a 28-23 for their team with 1:20 to go. A timely find by Mario Bonleon to Ferrer for his second three of the game was answered right back by a Ravena dish to Gotladera. That Ravena dish gave Ateneo a 30-26 lead to enter the second half.
A lackadaisical UST defense showed up on the courts after the intermission. With the Blue-and-White squad leading 36-34 at the 7:01 mark of the third canto, Ravena spun to the hoop that faked out Ed Daquioag in the air for an and-one play. This play sparked a huge 16-2 rally, as Pessumal, Babilonia, John Apacible, and Aaron Black all shot at will, which gave Ateneo the biggest lead, 52-36. Baskets by Ferrer and Bonleon ended the Ateneo momentum and the third quarter with the gold-and-white squad down 52-42.
“Kevin Ferrer, being the leader that he is, huddled up the guys and asked them to intensify their defense,” UST head coach Bong dela Cruz said about the interval between the third and the fourth. After free throws by Jerie Pingoy that gave Ateneo a 54-43 lead, Ferrer and the Growling Tigers played like a house on fire, as they turned up both their offense and their defense. Bonleon shot a long rainbow from the top of the arc at the 9:09 mark. This three pointer sparked a huge game-breaking rally that turned the tides of the game. Furthermore, Ferrer carried his team on his back, as he threw bomb, after bomb, after bomb, in an 11-0 run that tied game at 57-all to the delight of the thousands of UST fans in attendance. Moreover, the Bong dela Cruz-mentored squad switched from a zone to a man-to-man defense that switched to a zone in the halfcourt, which confounded the Blue Eagle-offense. In the last 3:03 of the game, the Katipunan cagers only scored a single point, which was a free throw by Ravena. The team’s shooting went sour in the final nine minutes of the game, as they missed all but one of the shots they chalked up. In addition, rookie Bonleon sticked to Ravena like glue that forced the former MVP to tough shot attempts. Conversions by Daquioag and a huge and-one play by grizzled veteran Karim Abdul closed the game with UST winning its fourth game in five outings, 68-58.
“Defense talaga ang inemphasis ko sa kanila and increase yung intensity,” coach Bong Dela Cruz disclosed about how they prepared against Ateneo. “First three quarters the defense was flat, but Kevin huddled everyone up, and they responded.”
Moreover, Dela Cruz proudly said this about his star senior. “Si Kevin Ferrer yan e. Yung puso niya di matitibag.” He also added that Ferrer was ill the night prior to this game, as he was scorching with fever. “Nung kinagabihan sabi ko kay coach baka di ako makalaro,” said Ferrer. “Pero pinilit ko talaga maglaro dahil importante ito.”
Smart Elite ambassador, Kevin Ferrer led all scorers with a career-high 27 points. He was 8/17 from the field, that included six triples, and added nine boards. Karim Abdul, even in shooting a miserable 3/13 from the field for seven points, grabbed 11 huge boards.
For the Blue Eagles, Von Pessumal led the team with 19 markers. He was 7/13 from the field including 3/7 from rainbow country. Fellow Smart Elite ambassador Kiefer Ravena had an atrocious shooting game, as he made just four of his 18 field goal attempts. To make matters worse, Ravena was just 1/4 from the charity stripe in the deciding quarter, 4/7 in the game.
As a team, the Growling Tigers shot slightly better than the Blue Eagles, 35% to 32%. However, Ateneo committed 16 turnovers that led to 12 UST turnover points that proved to be the difference.
The UST Growling Tigers (4-1) will face another tough opponent on Wednesday, September 30 as they face the DLSU Green Archers at 4:00pm while the Ateneo Blue Eagles (3-2) face the UP Fighting Maroons on the same day at 2:00pm.
ADMU (58) – Pessumal 19, Ravena 13, Nieto Ma. 8, Babilonia 5, Tolentino 4, Gotladera 3, Apacible 2, Pingoy 2, Black 2, Ikeh 0, Capacio 0, Cani 0, Wong 0.
UST (68) – Ferrer 27, Daquioag 9, Lee 8, Bonleon 7, Abdul 7, Vigil 6, Sheriff 3, Faundo 1, Lao 0, Suarez 0, Subido 0, Caunan 0.
Quarterscores: 9-12, 26-30, 42-52, 68-58.
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