The Ateneo Blue Eagles emerged victorious over the pesky UE Red Warriors, notwithstanding the exhaustion from playing three games in a span of one week – including last Wednesday’s double overtime thriller versus NU.
The Katipunan-based squad opened the match aggressively led by Ponso Gotladera who took advantage of the undersized frontcourt of UE.
The Red Warriors used their trademark press all throughout the match to disrupt Ateneo’s offense. They forced the Eagles to give up the leather 24 times, eight in the first quarter alone, resulting to 17 turnover points.
Ateneo pulled away in the second quarter, sparked by Von Pessumal‘s hot shooting. They took care of the lead and by the time UE managed to outscore them in the final frame, it was already too late.
Pessumal led the charge with 21 points (six triples), while Kiefer Ravena had a near triple-double of 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists.
Lost and found: Von Pessumal
First 3 games
The missing person report filed for Pessumal is now considered a closed case. When he drained his first three-pointer, people were still skeptical. When he made it back-to-back, “Uy medyo legit.” But after five tries and he was still perfect from downtown, it became certain: sweet-shooting Von P3ssumal is back. This will help Ateneo space the floor better and lessen the pressure off Kiefer’s shoulders.
#1 offensive rebounding team
The Blue Eagles have been dominating the offensive glass in all of their games so far. They currently top the league with 41.3% offensive rebounding rate. Chibueze Ikeh grabs nearly seven offensive boards per outing, supported by Ponso and Kiefer who contribute 3 and 2.5 respectively. They are also number one in terms of second chance points with 15 per game.
The free throw shooting struggle is real
This one is really frustrating. Ateneo is the worst in terms of Free Throw Rate (free throws made/field goal attempts), which measures a team’s efficiency in earning trips to the charity stripe AND scoring from them. For every 100 field goal attempts, the Blue Eagles claim 17.5 freebies, which is far from the league average of 21.7. They’re among the best in drawing fouls but they fail to convert when sent to the line (case in point: Gotladera in this game is only 3-for-8).
Quality minutes from John Apacible
Did you know that John Apacible has not missed a single field goal? Granted, he has only taken a total of five attempts and he only plays an average of six minutes per game, but that’s still pretty efficient. It gives the Eagles an additional inside option off the bench. I like how he positions himself well under the basket that makes it easy for his teammates to locate him.
The win against NU, no matter how hard-earned, looked like a fluke especially if you delve deep into the numbers. This victory, on the other hand, is more convincing. I thought they won’t be able to overcome UE’s defense, but they did not panic amidst the turnovers. Relying on Kiefer to always save them in the endgame is obviously not a recipe for success, so it’s good that their bench players have been showing up as needed.