Ateneo's Kiefer Ravena drives for a layup against Adamson. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Kiefer Ravena scored 22 points and the Ateneo Blue Eagles demolished the Adamson Soaring Falcons, 79-57, to start their UAAP Season 77 campaign on a winning note Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles set a frenzied pace as they swarmed the Falcons on defense and ran at every opportunity, forcing the Falcons to commit 22 turnovers, which led to 22 Ateneo points.
The 22 points matched Ravena's season-high in Season 76, and the former Rookie of the Year added four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Rookie Arvin Tolentino shook off a jittery start to score 12 points in his Ateneo debut, while Chris Newsome picked up right where he left off from last season with 12 points and eight boards.
"I don't think how we played today is going to be a gauge of how we're going to perform this coming season. But I'm just glad that we were able to get this first win," said Ateneo head coach Bo Perasol.
The Blue Eagles broke the game open late in the first period, when their trapping defense flustered the Falcons into several turnovers and shot clock violations.
It was only a four-point game, 15-11, in favor of Ateneo when a reverse lay-up by transferee Alfonso Gotladera sparked a 9-0 run that allowed the Blue Eagles to build a double-digit lead.
Ateneo's defense only became more aggressive in the second quarter, as they swarmed the Adamson ball-handlers and prevented them from even setting up their offense.
Tolentino, after a shaky start, found his touch in the second period, connecting on three-pointers twice to help the Blue Eagles pull away even more.
But the highlight of the first half came when Ravena -- now fully healthy after playing most of last season while recovering from an injury -- posterized the Falcons with a baseline dunk at the 4:55 mark tht made it a 32-15 game.
He added to his highlight reel shortly before the end of the first half, taking advantage of another Adamson turnover for a breakaway slam to peg the score at 47-20 at halftime.
"I had the opportunity and I just took it strong," Ravena said of his dunk. "Yung dunk na 'yun was at the heat of the moment, bigla na lang nangyari. Nagulat din ako, actually."
"It's a new start for us," Ravena also said. "Juami (Tiongson), Ryan (Buenafe), Frank (Golla) and Poy (Erram) were key losses for us last year, so ngayon, 0-0 standing na ulit and new faces. A new adventure begins for us and good thing it started with a win."
Adamson played better in the second half, with veterans Jansen Rios and Don Trollano connecting from the perimeter, and new find Ivan Villanueva showing off his moves in the post.
The Falcons were never able to truly get back in the game, however, with Newsome and Von Pessumal helping Ravena on the offensive end. The lead ballooned to as much as 29 points, 72-43, after a bucket by point guard Nico Elorde with 5:23 left in the game.
The Blue Eagles have now won 34 of their last 35 meetings against the Soaring Falcons, including the last five.
The only smear of the game for Ateneo was an unsportsmanlike foul called on Ravena at the 4:51 mark of the third quarter, which occurred while he was boxing out for a rebound against Adamson's Villanueva.
"I didn't do anything. I'm a good boy," Ravena said. "It's a normal, physical game. It's basketball. He gave me a bump, I gave him a bump... I didn't do anything intentional to hurt the guy."
Perasol said they will definitely ask for a reconsideration of the unsportsmanlike foul, especially as another unsportsmanlike foul will lead to a suspension for Ravena and it will also have an impact on any awards that the guard may be in contention for.
Rios and Villanueva finished with 15 points each to lead the Falcons, who could not give new coach Kenneth Duremdes a win in his coaching debut.