Who would’ve known that this will be the Jeron Teng revenge game huh?
Early on, the former Xavier Stallion burned Ateneo again and again not on dysfunctional alligator-armed jumpshots, but on barreling drives you could only dream to defend given the RoboSon’s build. At one point, it was Teng 15,Ateneo 10. I guess that’s how scary he is when he doesn’t settle for jumpers (I’ve been pointing this out the whole season, by the way). De La Salle pulls one against their bitter rivals and they tie the count at 37 wins apiece against each other.
Well, to say the least, Kiefer Ravena did pump in his own version of 15 points in one quarter but he totally gassed himself out by doing so. De La Salle did not get alarmed this time around as the Blue Eagles tried to run out of a 13-4 deficit early in the first period, unlike last time.
The Eagles tried to mount a late rally as Chris Newsome finally got to play (no thanks to three early fouls) but in the end, Ravena opted to go hero-ball than to defer to someone who has been hot in the clutch (at least for the game). With that out of the way, more nitpicking I should say for the keys to the game.
BEWARE THE BLUE MAMBA
Kiefer still ended up with 22 points (23 shots, ew), six boards and six assists and a steal.
I think you could chalk that up as a win for La Salle. Anytime you force Ravena to match his shot output and his actual output, that’s a good defensive day already. He’s always going to get his, so the best way you can defend him is to let him have his shots ala Kobe. Julian Sargent was mighty impressive in face-guarding the Blue Mamba. I think De La Salle has found their perimeter stopper now. And if he gets benched, question marks na lang.
POUND IT HARDER
Did RoboSon have an epiphany? All game long, it was game face (SELFIE READY!) and no jumpshot. In Pinoy parlance, mama kung mama! Teng drove and drove and drove and there was nothing the Ateneo defense could do. His primary defender was kept back-pedalling and wound up with three early fouls. In two consecutive offensives, Newsome got crushed by a bone-rattling Norbert Torres pick that Teng breezed past by to drive down the middle while in the next, NewNew opted to go under and Teng subsequently buried an alligator-armed rainbow. He was that hot. And there’s nothing you can do.
Jason Perkins also made a living underneath. Hefty Lefty finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds as he bounced back from consecutive poor performances across the board since going off for 25 and 10 against this same Ateneo squad.
LIVE AND DIE WITH THE ROOKIES?
Arnold Van Opstal dressed for the day but was never used. Juno Sauler opted to go with bruising rookie Prince Rivero who was instrumental in riling up the squad with his offensive rebounds and putbacks in a game-long brilliance from the kid. Also, Sargent more than cemented his place in the starting rotation of Juno Sauler, or just his rotation as Sarge is practically their best perimeter defender.
De La Salle did enough to keep Ateneo off their backs even if Ravena went nova on them in the second quarter. This game showed that the Blue Eagles are slow to start if Ravena is playing facilitator, trying to warm up Newsome and Arvin Tolentino. If anything, it’s a blue print for the rest of the league. And a reminder to people that Jeron Teng is a total bully when he decides to keep driving rather than settling for jump shots.