MANILA -- The Ateneo Blue Eaglets won back-to-back titles after eking out a 61-56 victory against the De La Salle Zobel (DLSZ) Junior Archers in the 72nd UAAP Juniors basketball on Thursday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Kiefer Ravena sealed the win for Ateneo with two free throws in the last 4.6 seconds. But more than that, it was his savvy playmaking that helped the Eaglets capture their 17th title.
The 15-year-old son of former PBA superstar Bong Ravena, finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and two steals to cap a superb all-around game. Ravena also captured the Finals MVP plum.
Ravena’s assist to Paolo Romero helped the Eaglets pull away in the tightly-fought contest, 59-55, just 35.5 ticks remaining.
The Junior Archers bled for only two free throws in the final five minutes and could only watch the Eaglets escape with the victory.
“Fortunately for us, they could not convert. I knew that with a two-point lead in a game like that, the pressure is really high. So if we’re able to convert and get a two-point lead, we had a chance to win it in the final minute,” Eaglets coach Jamike Jarin said.
Romero scored six of his 12 points in the final 3:34 of the game as Ateneo overhauled a 53-54 deficit midway in the fourth quarter.
The game saw seven deadlocks and seven lead changes, with the Eaglets pulling away in the end game.
“I’m lucky that I am surrounded by great players and coaches,” Jarin said.
The championship is Jarin’s seventh with the Eaglets since taking over the coaching reins in 1998.
It was a disappointing end for the top-seed Junior Archers, who failed to find their groove that gave them a 12-2 record in the eliminations.
DLSZ coach Boris Aldeguer blamed the long lay-off for their loss. He said they have lost their momentum after their close 57-53 win in Game 2.
“Pagkatapos naming manalo sa Final Four, gigil na gigil na ang mga players ko na maglaro sa Finals. We lost some momentum when the Finals got twice postponed. Hindi pa kami 100 percent,” Aldeguer said.
It was evident that the Junior Archers succumbed to pressure especially in the last five minutes of Game 3 where they failed to score a single field goal.
It was Aldeguer’s first loss in the Finals since assuming the coaching job in the DLSZ in 2004. The Junior Archers won the 2005 and 2007 championship with him. By Alder T. Almo
ADMU 61 – Banal 16, Romero 12, Pessumal 10, Ravena 9, Sinco 3, Pe 3, Tim Capacio 3, Dumrique 2, Bugarin 2, Reyes 1.
DLSZ 56 – Gwynne Capacio 15, Dela Paz 14, Van Opstal 9, Elorde 8, Herrera 6, Roxas 2, Park 2, Sevilla 0, Fortuna 0.
Quarters: 14-8, 22-22, 42-41, 61-56.