Their first round match was an instant classic and heartbreaking as the Katipuneros clawed their way back and took the victory in a pulsating double overtime thriller. Leading MVP candidate Kiefer “The Phenom” Ravena showed everyone in that game why he’s the best collegiate player right now. The Blue Mamba buried a difficult stepback three-pointer over the pesky defense of Pao Javelona that sent the game into overtime. Later on the first extra period, Ravena drove hard to the basket against two defenders to force another extension. Simply Kobe. Clutch.
Keys to Winning
1. Of course, stop The Phenom.
As we all know, he is the heart and soul of the Blue Eagles. Defense must be focused against this uber-talented baller. Javelona, the so-called Kiefer Stopper, will once again hound his nemesis. Last meeting, Ravena tussled over NU’s suffocating defense as he shot a dismal 7/26 (26.9%) from the field. This game also marked his lowest assist rate of 13.7%, which means that he did some ball hogging to the point of hurting his team. Nevertheless, he negated those numbers with his crucial baskets down the line to notch the win.
2. Limit their offensive rebounding.
Chibueze Ikeh, the Incredible Hulk of Ateneo, flexed his muscle the last time these two teams met. He tallied an impressive rebounding splits of 36/13/28. That’s pretty unbelievable line considering they faced an NU squad that is being anchored by Aroga (who is a tremendous rebounder) in the paint. Offensive boards will play a major role in this game and they can’t afford to be heavily outrebounded by Ateneo once again.
3. Start defending Arvin Tolentino.
It’s been a long time ago when this former Red Cub displayed his offensive prowess. Against UST, Tolentino finally showed up as he registered a season-high 20 markers on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. The reigning Rookie of the Year also showed that he can also be a decent defender against elite ballers like Kevin Ferrer, who had a horrible 1-of-11 shooting. Do not be surprised if Tolentino will get additional minutes. And as we have witnessed previously, he can light it up on offense which should alarm the Bulldogs.
The defending champs are now motivated to start another winning run and improve their current record. But with the Blue Eagles starting to find contributions from the likes of Tolentino, Aaron Black, and Adrian Wong, expect another tough grind for them.
|TV: LIVE ON ABS-CBN SPORTS AND ACTION|
|TIME: 4:00 PM|
|VENUE: SMART-ARANETA COLISEUM|