It could have been Roi Sumang’s revenge game, but it’s Kiefer Ravena’s revenge season.
UE started really strong, forcing six turnovers in the first three minutes of the match. The Eagles simply could not break the full court press employed by the Warriors. The quarter ended with Ateneo managing just TWO field goals and trailing by 18, no thanks to Charles Mammie’s monster rebounding and, well, mere presence.
The lead ballooned to as much as 21 points in the second frame, but the Katipunan squad started coming alive with their perimeter connections. They made a run in the dying minutes that would extend until after the halftime break. It was during this run that Kiefer began drawing fouls and trooping to the line. The Eagles trimmed the deficit down to a single possession, 41-44, but UE made a counter-run that once again pulled them away. It was only late in the fourth period when Ateneo managed to come close, sparked by Von Pessumal’s hot triples.
The Kiefer Ravena-Roi Sumang matchup was such a treat for the fans.
It would have been great if the other eight players got out of the way while these two settle the game one-on-one, superstar-to-superstar. The King Eagle and the King Warrior both posted career-high points, finishing with 38 and 30 respectively. Kiefer won the battle of the clutch though. He drained the jumper that sent the game to overtime and released the dagger trey (causing Anton Roxas to plead, “Have mercy, young man!”) that sealed the deal after 45 minutes of cardiac play. Sumang, on the other hand, found himself in the same position as their previous two losses, missing the final attempts both in regulation and in OT.
Quarterly Score and Four Factors
Review of the Keys to the Game
MAKE IT THROUGH THE RAIN (OF THREES)
Ateneo made it through by answering back with their own triples, and uncontested ones at that. In the first half, they were struggling to get their offense going with the suffocating defense of UE stopping them from getting into position. When they finally managed to space the floor the way they usually do, they started executing their plays better. They have shooters always waiting at the rainbow zone as Nico Elorde calls the shot or as Kiefer drags the defenders with him inside. This leads to open looks for Von Pessumal and Arvin Tolentino, but the latter’s shooting was off all afternoon (0-of-5 from deep).
MILK THOSE TURNOVERS
Ateneo Blue Eagles
UE Red Warriors
The Blue Eagles gave up nine turnovers that resulted to 12 UE points in the first period, but they recovered from this ugly start and still managed to win in this category.
CLOG THE SHADED AREA
|Season 77 (excluding this game)||15.8||5.6||6.2|
Coach Derrick Pumaren suddenly decided that he’d give Mammie more minutes, and the African center in turn played as if it’s Season 76. In 28.4 minutes, he contributed 18 points and 13 rebounds. Giboy Babilonia and rookie John Apacible had to take a lot of beating from the very fired up Mammie. I wonder why Ponso Gotladera, one of our best defensive weapons, was not used as much. UE’s other bigs Moustapha Arafat and Chris Javier were non-factors in scoring but they grabbed five boards a piece. Javier also dished out three dimes.
Game Notes and Other Observations
- This is stating the obvious, but Kiefer’s fishing expedition was instrumental in this game. When he started fishing for fouls late in the second period, I saw the angry expression on his face, which was a good sign for Ateneo because that just meant that the beast was about to be unleashed. He made 19-of-25, earning half of his career-high production from the charity stripe.
- The disparity in free throw attempts (45-30) can partially be attributed to UE not feeding Mammie the ball as often, which was especially questionable whenever Ateneo fields in a very small lineup with Arvin at 5. Mammie would have made a living out of that mismatch.
- I’ve been criticizing Arvin’s demeanor and decisions on the court since day one, but I would like to give him a break this game because of three things that all happened in the dying minutes of overtime: the help defense he gave that forced Mammie to travel; the block on Sumang’s final attempt; and that rebound that prevented Mammie from sending the match to a second OT. Credit also goes to Giboy Babilonia and Newsome in all these defensive plays, but these give me reasons to believe that the rook is trying. Considering his “what the hell were you doing?” type of D in the past games (and before the OT), this is an improvement.
- Not to belittle the Eagles’ efforts and endgame character, but I think this is more telling of UE’s inability to close out games than Ateneo’s ability to win from behind. The Warriors failing to hold on to a huge lead and crumbling at crunch time are becoming all too familiar.
Ateneo is in a surprisingly good position – who would have thought, right? – but how they’ll sustain this until the second round is still a question. Kiefer may be a beast but it’s not every game that he can score 38 points. Pessumal will not always be flawless from downtown and Newsome’s midrange jumpers will not always fall.
Defense is still key.
Featured image by Ver Marquez, Interaksyon