Classic. Big shot after big shot after big shot. G.O.A.T. Kobe-esque. Clutch. That’s how I described the reigning UAAP MVP Kiefer Ravena‘s fantastic performance against the NU Bulldogs. Honestly, I’m running out of superlatives to use. Enough is enough.
Though the former Gilas cadet struggled offensively most of the game against the suffocating defense of NU, he bailed the Ateneo Blue Eagles out of the cellar and proved, once again, that he’s one of a kind talent.
Great scorers, including Kiefer, always find ways to make buckets. A stepback three-pointer during the regulation to send the game in overtime. A strong drive to the basket against three defenders which set the stage in another overtime. A split from the charity stripe followed by an outlet pass by rookie Jerie Pingoy which led to another heroic basket. After 40 minutes in regulation and two overtimes, the Ateneo Blue Eagles eked out a 74-70 win over NU and nailed their first win, since Season 76, against the defending champs.
If we’re going to summarize this fantastic duel between last year’s Final Four protagonists, it ended up Robin Hood and Incredible Hulk came into the game to rescue the Blue Eagles. Rookie Jerie Pingoy (Robin Hood) snatched the ball from Gelo Alolino and immediately forwarded the ball to Ravena against the so-called “Kiefer Stopper”, Pao Javelona. The former Baby Tamaraw also sank crucial free throws down the stretch.
Nigerian reinforcement Chibueze Ikeh (Incredible Hulk), who was maligned after two sloppy games, went on a beast mode. He flashed an insatiable appetite for rebounds and reminisced a Dennis Rodman daredevil performance by grabbing 17 caroms, 14 came from the offensive glass, together with his 14 points against the Aroga-less frontline, as the Cameroonian center graduated with five fouls in the closing acts.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BULLDOGS?
For the second straight game, NU committed a whopping 30 turnovers leading to Ateneo’s 33 points off turnovers. That’s an alarming statistic for NU’s coaching staff as the team need to settle their game sets. Alolino alone committed two crucial errors in latter part of the game which proved to be costly in their aim to get their first win of the season.
The absence of Aroga in the latter part of the game was felt by the Bulldogs in full effect. Ikeh relentlessly crashed the boards and outrebounded the entire NU squad in terms of offensive boards, 14-13. The big disparity in the rebounding department really sent the Bulldogs crashing down to earth as the former five-time UAAP titlist put up an impressive 49.23 % ORB.
Coach E admitted that he was impressed with their defense in this game. Javelona, who shackled Ravena all game long, forced the latter to shot an unimpressive 7/26 from the field. Looking at his shooting percentages in this game, as opposed to his first two games, proved that Ravena really worked his butt off. #JavelonaEffect
|Kiefer Ravena||2 PT FG%||3 PT FG%|
|1st 2 games||50%||54.5%|
Unfortunately for NU, Ravena negated those numbers. Just see this video because I don’t want to say it again and again.
By just looking at the positive side, NU took away a lot from this game. Coach Altamirano should continue the defensive structure they imposed in this game. Even Aroga finally showed the aggressiveness that is expected of him, although he fouled out of the game. Heading into their next game against the surprisingly undefeated UST Growling Tigers, the Bulldogs mentality and character shall continue to improve as they seek for their win number one of Season 78.
Featured Image credit: Naveen Ganglani, pinoyexchange.com