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Ravena, Ikeh deliver in clutch as Ateneo escapes NU in 2OT

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Ever since Ateneo Head Hoach Bo Perasol has taken over the helm for the Blue Eagles, he has never beaten the National University Bulldogs in the first six games he’s faced them until now.

Perasol, Ravena, and the Blue Eagles needed 50 minutes of grinding action and the heroics of rookie Nigerian student-athlete, Chibueza Ikeh, in order to defeat the Eric Altamirano-mentored Bulldogs, as Ateneo defeated National U for the first time in double overtime, 74-70, early Wednesday evening at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

An energetic NU squad pulled down early offensive boards with Alfred Aroga manning the inside. However, they muffed several putback attempts that limited them to four points before the timeout at the 4:40 mark. Meanwhile, Ateneo shot three midrange jumpers to give them the early edge, with Von Pessumal finding the stroke early on.

Despite struggling with seven turnovers in the first, NU slowed the pace down with their defense and only ended the quarter down, 11-13. With majority of second unit players fielded in for both squads, good ball movement gave Ateneo’s Tolentino and Ikeh a chance to score the first field goals of the second quarter, which help maintain the lead for the Eagles.

The slow scoring pace was due to poor three-point shooting from the teams. NU then pushed the ball inside but had to bleed for points, due to good clogging by the Katipunan-based crew. In the last minutes of the first half, veteran duo of Kyle Neypes and Gelo Alolino managed to tie the game at 24 before Kiefer Ravena scored the last three points of the second quarter, as Ateneo took the minimal lead at the break.

The teams went back-and-forth with the scoring exchange they put up to start the quarter. Notwithstanding the number of errors they had, perimeter jumpers started finding the mark in favor of the Bulldogs, as Pao Javelona and Kyle Neypes made jump shots to give NU a 37-33 edge over halfway in the third. The Bulldogs played the passing lanes actively as they were able to maintain the slim advantage after 30 minutes of action.

Aroga was aggressive to start the last period, accounting for his team’s first six points of the period. On the other end, Ateneo was trading baskets, as they had a hard time barging into NU’s lead. Afterwards, Neypes and Alolino knocked down five-straight points to extend their school’s lead at its largest, 54-48.

Fast forward to the final minute, Ravena followed up his miss from downtown with a floater. Afterwards, Jerie Pingoy stole the ball en route to two free throws on their end to melt the lead down to 55-54, with 18.7 ticks left. After Alolino drained in two free throws, Pessumal committed an inbound violation. However, Alolino would then lose the ball to Hubert Cani that found Ravena for the cold-blooded stepback triple to tie the game at 57.

As NU held a slim solitary point lead nearing two minutes left in overtime, Tansingco was called for an unsportsmanlike foul that led to two free throws by Ravena. Alolino then scored on a layup to swing back the lead to the Bulldogs’ favor. After Tansingco made a free throw, Ravena drove and stretched for a clutch layup to tie things up at 62 with 5.7 seconds left. Afterwards, Alolino missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer

During the second overtime, NU took first blood, but Ikeh converted four straight free throws, in addition to a reverse by Pessumal. Alolino, then, answered with two drives at the rim in response to stable shooting by Ikeh from the foul stripe, as the Ateneo faithful serenaded him with chants of “Ikeh, Ikeh!” Despite Ateneo missing cruicial attemps from the foul stripe, they were able to hang on by making it two-possession, and with time on their side, as they defeated the NU Bulldogs for the first time, 74-70.

After the game, an exhausted Coach Bo Perasol quipped, “it was a grind.” Perasol credited the win to his Team Captain, Kiefer Ravena, who he said “made it all happen.” Moreover, he added that the team’s foreign student-athlete Ikeh stepped up for the team. Ikeh stepped up today. He doesn’t have to prove anything at all.” Ravena also added that “Ikeh will be the key in the drive for the championship.”

Ravena led all scorers with 21 markers, but shot just 27% from the field, 7/26, including 1/10 from downtown. He added 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals, while also committing 5 turnovers. Chibueza Ikeh had his best outing so far, with a huge double-double, 14 points, 17 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

For the defending champions, Gelo Alolino collected 19 points and grabbed 8 boards in 44 minutes of action. Alfred Aroga, who fouled out, had 14 points and 7 rebounds.

As a team the Bulldogs shot at a higher clip compared to their opponents, 40.50% to 30.12%. However, they were outrebounded 57-46 that resulted to a 21-10 advantage for the cagers from Katipunan in second chance points. Finally, Ateneo had 10 more free throw conversions compared to National U.

Ateneo are now winners of two straight and holds a 2-1 record while the defending champions drop to a 0-3 slate. The Blue Eagles will next face the UE Red Warriors (2-1) on Saturday, September 19 at 2:00pm, while the NU Bulldogs look to gain their first win on the same day against the UST Growling Tigers (3-0) at 4:00pm. Both games will be played at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The Scores:

ADMU (74) – Ravena 21, Ikeh 14, Pingoy 9, Pessumal 8, Apacible 6, Tolentino A 6, Gotladera 4, Babilonia 2, Cani 2, Nieto Ma 2, Black 0, Nieto Mi 0, Tolentino M 0, Wong 0

NU (70) – Alolino 19, Aroga 14, Neypes 11, Celda 6, Abatayo 5, Javelona 5, Tansingco 4, Alejandro 2, Diputado 2, Salim 2, Javillonar 0, Lastimosa 0, Rangel 0

Quarters: 13-11, 27-24, 42-43, 57-57, 62-62, 74-70

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