MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) Blue Eagles weathered a strong fourth quarter surge by the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers to carve out a 68-66 win in the main game of Saturday's UAAP men's basketball.
It wasn't an easy win for the Katipunan-based dribblers, who pulled off a miracle against the comebacking Tigers just seconds remaining before regulation.
Kiefer Ravena, who fought through cramps near the end, tallied 18 points on 6-of-11 field goal shooting.
Ateneo's Kiefer Ravena drives past UST's Karim Abdul on Saturday's UAAP men's basketball. Ateneo won, 68-66. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com.
The 2011 UAAP Rookie of the Year, who posterized Karim Abdul with a slam, also gathered 6 rebounds and dished out 4 assists.
“I was cramping up in the latter part of the game. [But] sabi ko nga kay coach don't take me out, do-or-die na eh. We don't want to go through all those complications if we lose, so I stuck to it,” said Ravena, referring to the twice-to-beat edge that goes with their victory.
The win overshadowed the 22-point effort of Abdul, who committed the biggest mistake in the game by goaltending an attempt by Ryan Buenafe when UST was holding a 66-65 lead over Ateneo, with only 7 seconds left.
“UST is a very tough team... I said right in the very beginning of the year to the press that they will be one of the toughest teams in this league,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black.
The Tigers, led by Jeric Teng, came out roaring in the first half, raining triples against the Eagles for a 33-30 halftime advantage.
Ateneo orchestrated a 22-10 blast against UST in the third to seize the lead, 52-43, going into the fourth quarter.
But the Tigers had other things in mind as they trimmed the Eagles' lead to 6, 61-55, 4:51 to go.
Back-to-back treys by Kevin Ferrer and Clark Bautista tied the game, 61-all, with 2:20 left.
After an exchange of baskets from both teams, Aljon Mariano split his charities to give UST a slim 64-63 lead.
Juami Tiongson’s bucket pushed the Eagles ahead, but Abdul swung the momentum back to the Tigers, 66-65, with 7 seconds left in the game.
Buenafe then gambled with a drive, got fouled and won an automatic 2 points on Abdul’s goaltending violation.
With Buenafe's free throw, the Eagles got a 68-66 breather with 5 seconds left.
UST coach Pido Jarencio drew a play for Mariano, but Mariano missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Tiongson finished the game with 13 points, while Buenafe chipped in 11.
Teng, meanwhile, had 12 points for UST, most of them in the first half. Mariano scored 9 points.
“We didn't do a bad job in the first half but still they were able to do three pointers and pick their outside shots,” said Black.
With the win, the Eagles vindicated their first-round loss to the Tigers.
Ateneo improved to 12 wins and 3 losses while UST fell behind Far Eastern University (FEU) at third place with a 9-4 win-loss card.
ADMU 68 - Ravena 18, Tiongson 13, Buenafe 11, Slaughter 10, Sumalinog 7, Salva 6, Elorde 3, Gonzaga 0, Golla 0, Chua 0
UST 66 - Abdul 22, Teng 12, Mariano 9, Fortuna 8, Ferrer 8, Bautista 7, Vigil 0, Pe 0, Lo 0, Afuang 0
Quarter scoring: 15-18, 30-33, 52-43, 68-66