Coach Norman Black was so excited when the Ateneo Blue Eagles won their third title last year as he said on television, “If you think two years ago we had a good recruiting class, wait till next year!” Today, those words were put into action as Rookie Sensation Kiefer Ravena and another rookie Greg Slaughter scored 19 and 15 respectively to lead the three time defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles to a masterful 69 – 49 win over last year’s runner up the Far Eastern University Tamaraws. That win gave the Blue Eagles a sweep of the first round and a two game lead of its nearest pursuers.
In the seven wins of the Blue Eagles they were led by either Slaughter or Ravena as the rookies have led the veteran laden team to the top of season 74 of the UAAP. Greg Slaughter started hot in the first quarter as he scored 5 points to lead the Blue Eagles. Unfortunately, the Tamaraws found a way to limit the 7 foot center as they sent in 6’11 Christian Sentcheu to slow him down. The ploy actually succeeded as Slaughter found it hard to post up and eventually settled for jumpers that did not go in. Both teams went toe to toe with Terrence Romeo waxing hot to score six points to pace the Tamaraws who tied the Blue Eagles 15 – all at the end of the first quarter.
Come the second quarter it was Kiefer time! After a slow start by the Blue Eagles, the Phenom went to work as he scored eight second quarter points to lead all scorers at the half. Ravena scored on the break, on the drive and on the fifteen foot line as he ignited the offense of the slumping Blue Eagles in the second quarter. While Ravena was scoring for the Ateneo, the rest of the Blue Eagles started to tighten up their defense as they put the clamps on last year’s MVP Ryan Roose Garcia. Dimunitive point guard Eman Monfort stayed with Garcia and limited the MVP to four points in the first half. At the end of 20 minutes the Blue Eagles were on top by just two baskets but it was enough considering the Blue Eagles took the best shot of the Tamaraws.
The third quarter saw the Blue Eagles tighten their defense once more as the Tamaraws had offensive droughts which led to a measly nine point third quarter for the tamaraws. With the Blue Eagles ahead 32 - 30, the Blue Eagles forced the FEU squad to misses which they translated to baskets and before you know it the Hail Mary team was lalready up by nine 39 – 30 as Greg Slaughter capped the run with a three point play with the pass coming from hi co rookie!
There was a crucial incident that happened in the fourth quarter that more than sealed the fate of the Tamaraws. Last year’s rookie of the year Terrence Romeo was whistled for a foul on Monfort which he resented. He eventually put an accusing finger on the referees who was agitated by it and called him a Technical Foul. Upon hearing the referress, FEU Coach Bert Flores followed suit and was whistled for a techincal foul while Rusell Escoto was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Slaughter that gave the Blue team another two free throws. On the possession after five of the six free throws made, fifth year guard Kirk Long sank a three pointer and in the return play Long rifled another cold blooded three to give the Blue Eagles another 11 points that made their lead balloon to twenty points which sealed the outcome of the game.
Topscoring for the Blue Eagles for the third straight game is Kiefer Ravena who also added 9 rebounds, two assists and a steal. Slaughter had 15 points, 11 rebounds and a blocked shot while Nico Salva had 10 points three rebounds and three assists. On the other side it was only RR Garcia who scored 15 points as the only Tamaraw who scored in double figures as he sank 7 fourth quarter points but still shot a horrible 6 of 17 from the field. This is the third that the Blue Eagles have swept the first round but unfortunately in those years that they swept the first round the Blue Eagles never got the to win the crown. Well there will always be a first time.
Ravena 19, Slaughter 15, Salva 10, Long 9, Gonzaga 4, Chua 4, Monfort 3, Sumalinog 2, Austria 2, Golla 1, Tiongson 0, Erram 0
Garcia 15, Escoto 8, Romeo 8, Sentcheu 5, Ramos 5, Exciminiano 4, Tolomia 3, Cruz 1, Mendoza 0, Foronda 0, Knuttel 0, Cawaling 0
Quarter scores: 15 -15, 30 – 26, 47 – 35, 69 - 49