The Ateneo Blue Eagles will face the only squad that tainted their unblemished record in the first round, the National University Bulldogs. The best offensive team (with a below average defense) will go head-to-head with the best defensive team (with a below average offense).

Chris Newsome‘s role will once again be tough as he tries to get past Alfred Aroga on one side and contain Troy Rosario on the other, with the help of centers Ponso Gotladera and Giboy Babilonia.

Alfred Aroga bullies the Eagles under the basket (Photo Credit: Jerome Ascano, SPIN)


Only Kiefer Ravena and Arvin Tolentino managed to score in double digits in their first encounter. Von Pessumal‘s sniping will be necessary for this game and Nico Elorde will have to keep an eye on Gelo Alolino while also contributing offensively.

Team Stats

Stats League Average Ateneo NU

Free Throw Rate (FTR)

20.9 29.6 (1st) 14.8 (7th)

True Shooting Percentage (TS%)

46.2 50.6 (2nd) 45.1 (5th)

Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)

42.3 45.0 (3rd) 42.9 (5th)

Offensive Rebound Rate (OREB%)

34.4 37.1 (3rd) 37.3 (2nd)

Assist Rate (AST%)

54.4 54.8 (4th) 52.7(6th)

Turnover Rate (TOV%)

20.1 15.6 (1st) 20.9 (5th)

Offensive Rating (ORTG)

86.8 101.2 (1st) 85.9 (5th)

Defensive Rating (DRTG)

86.8 94.2 (7th) 74.0 (1st)

Keys to the Game


The Blue Eagles got creamed in the battle of the boards the last time around (34-48). Ateneo has to fight fight blue and white for every possession and not give their taller opponents second or third chances. They also need to pressure the Bulldogs in giving up the leather and convert these errors into points. NU turns the ball over 20.9 times per 100 possessions, and hopefully the Hail Mary squad can take advantage of this.


Ateneo should avoid digging their own grave in the first half then trying to get out of it alive in the second. We all love Kiefer’s end game heroics, but man, cardiac games are exhausting (for the players and the fans). It will be difficult to start strong versus a team like NU because of their sticky defense, but if Ateneo fails to set the tempo of the match early on, they’ll be in for a disappointment.


Given the exceptional defense of NU, Kiefer’s ability to adjust will once again be tested, as well as the other veterans’ way of responding to the challenge. Who do you think will be the Phenom stopper this time? Kiefer’s assist rate has been continuously improving and is currently the league leader. He assists 34.5 percent of his teammates’ field goals when he’s on the floor. He also tops the league in terms of free throw attempts per outing at 9.9. Racking dimes and drawing fouls have been Kiefer’s way of scoring amidst the tight D that he’s forced to endure every game.


If the Bulldogs successfully stop Kiefer, Newsome, and Pessumal from being as productive as they usually are – limit one or two of them to single digit production like the last time – and Arvin remains missing in action (in short, a low-scoring game), then they can get away with the victory. Otherwise, Ateneo has a chance to get even.

Featured image courtesy of Mark Cristino, Pinoy Exchange