Ateneo's Kiefer Ravena (15) attempts a shot against UE's Gino Jumao-as (8) and Roi Sumang (6). Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 1) Kiefer Ravena hit a dagger three-pointer with 14 seconds to go as the Ateneo Blue Eagles defeated the University of the East Red Warriors, 78-73, in another heart-stopping game in the UAAP Season 77 men's basketball tournament Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ravena struggled in the first half due to foul trouble, but shone brightest once again in crunch time. With Ateneo clinging to a slim 73-72 lead, Ravena rifled in a booming three-pointer with 14.3 seconds left that gave them a 76-72 advantage.
A free throw by Charles Mammie with 11.1 seconds left cut into the deficit, but Von Pessumal proved to be steady at the foul line as Ateneo repeated their victory over UE.
"What can I say? Parang ang ginawa lang ng teammates ni Kiefer, parang nag-bake sila, tapos si Kiefer ang naglagay ng icing, siya naglagay ulit ng frosting," Ateneo coach Bo Perasol said after the game.
"As any player would do coming off a loss, you would want to bounce back," said Ravena, referring to their slim defeat at the hands of De La Salle University last weekend. "I just wanted to win talaga."
Ravena finished with a near triple double of 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, but it was Chris Newsome who carried the Blue Eagles in the early goings and finished with a season-high 23 points to go along with six boards. Three other players finished in double-digits for Ateneo.
"I had the goal before the start of the game, and the coaches already told me what UE is gonna throw at me. Kaya noong umpisa, I was really involving my teammates," Ravena explained.
"So Chris had a great game, Von was there and also Nico (Elorde). Ganoon talaga, eventually, babantayan na nila 'yung mga teammates ko, and 'yun 'yung makakapagpa-libre sa akin," he added.
The plan worked as Ravena was defended virtually one-on-one when he hit the dagger, and single coveraged proved insufficient against the UAAP's leading scorer.
Ateneo has now taken over solo first in the league standings with a 7-2 record, and bounced back from their heartbreaking 86-88 loss to archrivals La Salle in their previous game.
UE, meanwhile, saw their two-game winning streak snapped and dropped down to a 4-5 win-loss record.
UAAP fans were expecting a rematch of the shootout between Ravena and UE star Roi Sumang, who scored 38 and 30 points, respectively, in Ateneo's 93-91 overtime victory in the first round of the tournament.
But the hotly anticipated rematch failed to materialize, as Ravena struggled from the field in the first half and then had foul trouble, while Sumang rode the bench for most of the second quarter.
Instead it was Newsome who helped Ateneo take a 15-11 lead in the first period, as he repeatedly drove to the lane to fish for fouls. The Red Warriors would claim the lead halfway through the second quarter, however, via a 13-2 run anchored on center Mammie.
Mammie imposed his will inside, scoring on his usual array of lay-ups and putbacks, and capped the scoring run with a lay-up after breaking down the defense of Ateneo's G-Boy Babilonia.
Down 23-30 and with Ravena on the bench due to three fouls, Ateneo got back in the game thanks to Newsome and Elorde, who took turns scoring inside points for the Blue Eagles. After a Chris Javier lay-up gave UE a 32-30 advantage, Pessumal knocked in his first triple of the game to snatch back the lead.
Another lay-up by Elorde capped a 12-2 run to end the first half, and gave Ateneo a slim 35-32 lead at halftime.
"Nakatulong na for the first time in how many games, nag-start kami ng mas maganda," noted Perasol. "Hindi kami nag-habol, and we sustained it."
Ateneo looked as though it would take complete control of the contest when they built a 45-36 lead early in the third quarter, thanks to buckets from Pessumal and Newsome.
UE, however, showed their capacity to score in bunches. With Sumang still ineffective, the Red Warriors went to Mammie, Paul Varilla and RR De Leon, who responded with perimeter shots to help UE cut down the deficit.
The Blue Eagles still led 54-51 entering the final period, but UE snatched the lead, 58-57, via a Gino Jumao-as triple and extended it to as much as three points, 62-59. Ateneo was energized when Ravena exploded for a dunk, however, and it touched off a 9-0 blast for a 68-62lead.
That was when Sumang came alive. He scored five quick points, including a three-pointer over the outstretched arms of Newsome, then Mammie hit a hook shot as UE took back the lead, 69-68, with still over three minutes left in the game.
The game was tied for the last time at 71-all when Mark Olayon stole the ball off Newsome and raced to the other end for a lay-up. Two free throws by Ravena gave them back the lead, then Renz Palma had a split at the stripe for a 73-72 scoreline that set up Ravena's dagger.
"I was signaling to Kiefer in the last five minutes, kasi naramdaman ko na parang nagko-coast siya," Perasol said. "Sabi ko, 'Kief, you have to up the ante. Kailangan itaas mo pa ng koonti for us to win this game.'"
"Siya rin naman ang nag-deliver in the end," he added.
Mammie finished with a double-double of 15 points and 18 rebounds -- 11 of them offensive -- to lead the Red Warriors, while Sumang added 10 points in only 25 minutes of playing time.
"Importante na makuha namin 'yung seven wins," said Perasol, "para mabigyan kami ng mas magandang chances in the games to come."
ADMU 78 - Newsome 23, K. Ravena 16, Pessumal 13, Elorde 11, Gotladera 11, Babilonia 2, Capacio 1, T. Ravena 1, A. Tolentino 0, V. Tolentino 0.
UE 73 - Mammie 15, Sumang 10, Varilla 8, De Leon 8, Olayon 7, Alberto 7, Jumao-as 7, Arafat 4, Palma 3, Galanza 2, Javier 2, Guiang 0.
Quarter-scores: 15-11, 35-32, 54-51, 78-73