Victory is indeed a whole lot sweeter when it’s at the expense of your rivals.
The Ateneo Blue Eagles were off to a rough start in this match, but were able to gain momentum starting from the second period courtesy of hot shooting from Von Pessumal. Former Green Archer Ponso Gotladera also performed at his UAAP career best in his first game against his old teammates. Kiefer Ravena exploded in the fourth and surprised us with back-to-back-to-back triples, while Arvin Tolentino finished with a double-double production.
|Inside Pts||Perimeter Pts||2nd Ch Pts|
Review of the Keys to the Game
Look at that. Ateneo had to bleed to get points inside. The Blue Eagles couldn’t get enough good looks near the basket and had to settle for mid and long-range jumpers for most of the game. It didn’t help that they committed five offensive fouls in the first quarter alone, most of them coming from their attempts to drive to the rim. They had more success attacking the zone defense in the latter part, with Ponso and Von powering through and being more aggressive.
The Green Archers made 46 inside points, mostly thanks to Jason Perkins. Out of all their big men, it’s only Perkins who consistently penetrated Ateneo’s interior defense manned by Gotladera, Giboy Babilonia, and John Apacible. Arnold Van Opstal and Norbert Torres took turns in contributing points. AVO was held scoreless in the first half but was able to work his post moves in the fourth, while Torres couldn’t contribute a single point after scoring eight in the first three periods.
Jeron Teng was effective in cutting to the basket especially in the first quarter as he led his team’s early run. But during the crucial minutes in the final period, we saw La Salle shooting wild shot after wild shot courtesy of Teng and Almond Vosotros who finished with field goal percentages of 30 percent and 32 percent respectively.
GRABBING THE BOARDS
Ateneo outrebounded La Salle, 52-51, but the Archers had more offensive boards and had more second-chance conversions. I’m happy that almost all guys from Ateneo contributed in the rebounding department, with Arvin Tolentino leading with ten (from zero last game) and Gotladera with eight (who boxes out pretty well). They did fight for every possession and they refused to allow the big men of La Salle to bully them in grabbing those boards. Even smaller guys Pessumal and Nico Elorde were able to add seven rebounds each.
Chris Newsome’s rebounding prowess was not felt in this game, partly because of his limited minutes due to early foul trouble. On the other side, it’s Teng, Perkins, and AVO who posted huge rebounds with 12, ten, and nine respectively.
Now I didn’t expect Kiefer Ravena to be the star in this category. Who would’ve thought that outside shooting will be part of his repertoire this season? The Phenom was simply on fire from downtown, making 5-of-7 attempts (four in the final period). I was starting to question his decision to settle for triples in three consecutive possessions, but hey it worked, so why not?
In the pregame, I mentioned Von Pessumal and Nico Elorde as the outside shooters that Ateneo can rely on. Pessumal made 2-of-7 (more on Pessumal later) while Elorde made 0-of-6. Ateneo’s starting point guard had a really bad shooting day with his way-off shots and a couple of airballs. He made up for it though with his eight assists, seven rebounds, and 70% free throw shooting when La Salle employed their hack-an-Eagle strategy (which was originally a hack-a-Gotladera, until Coach Bo decided to sub him in and out of the game) to stop the clock in the dying minutes.
Vosotros couldn’t bail La Salle out with his three-pointers as he only made four of his eleven attempts. Thomas Torres also couldn’t contribute, because of his injury (sad news: Thomas is reportedly out for the season). The only other Archer who scored from downtown was Perkins.
-Von Pessumal was a revelation. Well not really, because I knew his moment will come and I’ve been waiting for it since his sophomore year. Pessumal has been an obvious asset for the Eagles defensively, but he’s underestimated/under-utilized offensively. He was all over the place – dropping long bombs, jumpers, under-the-baskets, and putbacks. He was also 3/3 from the charity stripe. I thought it would be a relatively quiet game for Kiefer Ravena, but the fourth quarter came and of course he just had to make some noise. He made 14 big points in that final frame to completely pull the lead away from the Archers’ reach. He also added five rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
– Ponso Gotladera showed a lot of hustling on both sides of the court. He put up impressive numbers, but what I’d like to highlight is his effort to contain La Salle’s frontline. Perkins was able to work his magic over Gotladera’s outstretched hands one too many times, but this guy did not lose his confidence and continued doing what he was tasked to do. True to Coach Bo Perasol’s words, Gotladera was Ateneo’s “Golden Boy” in this game.
– Arvin Tolentino is slightly reminiscent of Ryan Buenafe in terms of his fancy moves AND his questionable shot selection. So many times he was able to attract the big defenders but instead of giving the ball to an open teammate, he forced the issue. This kid’s got skills, but he got to learn to pass the ball when he’s stuck in traffic.
The Blue Eagles should be able to find better ways to fight the zone or to attack inside when faced with taller opponents. They were lucky they shot well from the perimeter, while La Salle’s were not falling in. They also need to increase their bench production. Aside from Pessumal’s 21-point contribution, no other scoring came from the bench for this game.
2-0 is a nice way to start the season, but this is in no way a safety cushion as there are 12 more to go in the elimination round. One game at a time.