The Ateneo Blue Eagles failed to defeat their Kryptonite, their Achilles’ heel, their “the one that always gets away” – the National University Bulldogs. The basic storyline is similar to their previous encounter. NU started strong, Ateneo threatened to make a comeback, NU refused to collapse, and Ateneo fell short. Hey, it’s similar to a lot of Ateneo games this season, except that the late surge magic does not seem to work against NU.

The only thing that stopped the Bulldogs from completely pulling away are their turnovers. They lost the leather 26 times versus Ateneo’s seven. The full court press that Ateneo employed  paid off and gave them extra opportunities to catch up. Whenever they slow down and switch back to half court defense, however, the Bulldogs make them pay back.

JJay Alejandro was the Eagle slayer in this game as he scored career-high 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting and dished four assists. His effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 107.1 and true shooting percentage (TS%) of 99.2 was… wow.

Four Factors and Quarterly Score



79.1 79.8 38.7 7.5 28.3 21.3 92.7


80.5 79.8 57.1 29.2 35.7 44.9 97.7

Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 FINAL


14 18 18 24 74


24 20 16 18 78

Review of the Keys to the Game


In all their come-from-way-behind victories, it’s Kiefer Ravena who explodes in the fourth quarter after struggling for the first 30 minutes. I understand that Kiefer needs time to adjust to the heavy defense that the opponents throw at him. What he usually does in the first three quarters is create shots for his teammates, which in turn will force defenders to keep an eye on all players on the floor, giving him opportunities later on. It’s tough against NU who have players who are able to keep in step with Kiefer, namely Pao Javelona and Rev Diputado, and whose team defense is so good that even if they double Kiefer, they still manage to recover and prevent the rest of the Eagles from getting decent looks. Given this, fluid ball movement from start to finish is very important for Ateneo to survive the Bulldogs. Unfortunately in this game, their ball movement was terrible. There were too many isolation plays and/or forced shots for Kiefer.

This is not to say that the Phenom should not take charge of the team. He should. He has the license to do that. Ateneo rides and dies with him. But taking charge is not equivalent to jacking up 35 shots while the other top scorers only take a combined total of 24, right?


Kiefer Ravena

24 9/35 28.6 30.8

Chris Newsome

14 4/7 57.1 72.6

Nico Elorde

12 4/9 50.0 55.8

Von Pessumal

7 2/8 37.5 39.4


Ateneo had 26 perimeter points (18 from downtown) compared to NU’s 30 (18 from downtown). They converted only six three-pointers out of 22 attempts (2-of-9 for Kiefer, 2-of-6 for Pessumal).


The Blue Eagles rarely lose in this category but they did in this match. They only managed to get 25 trips to the line compared to NU’s 32. The good thing was they were able to draw enough fouls to send Alfred Aroga and Glenn Khobuntin to the bench in the final frame. The bad thing was they gave up unnecessary fouls down the stretch, and this happened after they made a 19-3 run that finally gave them a one-point lead.

All of NU’s ten points in the last eight minutes came from the charity stripe. Gelo Alolino in particular delivered cold-blooded ones, making seven of eight total attempts. Meanwhile, Kiefer continues to struggle at the line converting only four of nine attempts.

Final Thoughts

After reviewing the stats of both teams all throughout the season including this game, my key takeaway is that Ateneo is doomed. All the numbers point to NU advancing to the Finals.

The pressure will definitely be on the Blue Eagles as they’re the ones who need to do major adjustments. Hopefully they get to strategize and execute better on Wednesday.


Featured image courtesy of Edward Solo, Pinoy Exchange