Shaking off a rocky start in the first half, Kiefer Ravena once again came big when it counted, scoring 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles to a 69-58 victory over the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles lead for most of the first half, despite leading scorer Ravena managing to put only nine points in the the first two quarters. Still playing without prized swingman Kevin Ferrer, UST got much needed help on the offensive glass from Karim Abdul, Louie Vigil, and veteran Aljon Mariano, who collaborated to score 43 of UST’s 58 points.
After entering the second half with a 38-30 edge, the Blue Eagles suddenly found themselves struggling to find their touch with the Tigers clamping down defensively. Ateneo’s bigmen found themselves struggling to put up shots against UST bigman Abdul, while at the same time failing to hit the net from the mid-range jumper with Louie Vigil hounding the perimeter. UST would outscore Ateneo 16-12 in the quarter, bringing the score 50-46 entering the fourth quarter.
The Blue Eagles struggles would continue for the first two minutes of the final period of the game, but would eventually pull together to take a 55-49 lead with seven minutes on the clock. With UST’s Vigil failing to get baskets to fall, consecutive baskets from Ateneo’s Newsome and Ravena would put Ateneo back up by ten, 59-49.
With a visibly frustrated UST unable to find the easy shot and Ateneo’s scorers finally starting to find their touch, it was the Blue Eagles who would enter the final two minutes with a 63-51 lead. Though UST would manage to get a few more baskets in the next minute, a three-pointer from Ravena would put Ateneo up 69-56 with less than a minute remaining, putting the icing on the cake for Ateneo and putting UST’s bid for final four contention on a lifeline.
Kiefer Ravena had 23 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals for Ateneo, who climb to 8-3. Chris Newsome also contributed 14 points and 9 rebounds. Karim Abdul led UST with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Louie Vigil and Aljon Mariano had 14 and 12 respectively. UST meanwhile falls to 5-6.
“With two losses in hindsight, I wish we could have had one more win,” said Ateneo head coach Bo Perasol at the post-game conference. “The last few games will not be easy. Every team will find a way to win.”