Sunday, September 14, 2014

Return of the King: Blue Eagles take #1 spot in UAAP Basketball

Kiefer Ravena scored when it mattered most

I have said it over and over again and once again i will say it again. What separates the Ateneo from other schools is its rich tradition of excellence.  That tradition of excellence is embedded in the minds and hearts of all Ateneans that is why even in the midst of insurmountable odds, that tradition of excellence sparks up the hearts of Ateneans to make him put his performance on a higher gear.   IIn a game for all the UAAP marbles, the Ateneo Blue Eagles overcame a 19 point deficit in the last six minutes to beat the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in overtime 68 – 64 and get the top spot in the 77th season of the UAAP Basketball tournament with an 11 – 3 win loss slate.

The Masked Man had 13 points & 16 rebounds

The game lived up to its billing as the battle of the top teams with the FEU Tamaraws brimming with confidence as their first five of Anthony Hargrove, Mac Belo, Carl Cruz, Achie IƱigo and Mike Tolomia had fire in their eyes.  The first four minutes was a defensive game with both teams seizing up each other until FEU went on a mini run to end the quarter with a five point lead 12 -7. For the nth time the Blue Eagles started flat again as Kiefer’s jumpers were not falling and whenever he drived to the basket he was met by two to three defenders who ganged up on him.  Chris Newsome was obviously bothered by his mask since his shots too were not falling as he scored only two free throws in the first half.  Enter Von Pessumal as he gets the Blue faithfuls excited but the tight defense put on Von made him miss his shots and much worse made him pass the ball since he cannot get an open look.  Super Rookie Arvin Tolentino was very passive on offense while Nico Elorde cannot find his range.

Von Pessumal shoots a three pointer

Coach Bo experimented with his line up and luckily veteran forward Gwyne Capacio scored 6 points to help the most potent offensive team weather the plague that has just beset them. The Blue Eagles scored 7 first quarter points, 11 second quarter points and  8 third quarter points for a total of 26 points in thirty minutes.  Kiefer Ravena, the league’s leading scorer was held down to 8 points. The Tamaraws were eager to start the fourth quarter and blow away the Blue Eagles since they were on top by 19 points (45 - 26) and they have completely quelled everything that the Blue Eagles did to come back.

Fonso had 9 points & 7 rebounds in 14 minutes of action

One thing that went well for the Blue Eagles in the fourth quarter was the insertion of power forward Vince Tolentino and center Fonzo Gotladera. After going small ball most of the time, the Blue Eagles then went inside. This caught the Tamaraws by surprise as the duo combined for an early mini run that got the Ateneo crowd going. Another thing that is part of Ateneo’s tradition of excellence is its cheering. By waking up the Ateneo sixth man, the Blue Eagles somehow got reinvigorated, the Blue Eagles got their second wind and are now ripe to go into overdrive. After Roger Pogoy scored on a three pointer to give the Tamaraws a commanding 19 point lead (55 – 36) with 6 minutes and 12 seconds to go the impossible happened. A lot of teams would have thrown in the towel but not the Blue Eagles, not Kiefer Ravena, not the Ateneo sixth man.

Three Tams defend Kiefer Ravena

Lets give a blow by blow account on what happened.
6:05 Kiefer Ravena drives to the middle and is fouled! Two free throws 38 – 55.
5:46 Francis Tamsi is fouled but misses two free throws
5:24 Fonzo Gotladera scores on a put back after a Kiefer miss 40 – 55
4:58 Carl Cruz scores on an undergoal stab and is fouled. Misses bonus 57 – 40
4:39 Kiefer Ravena scores on a jumper 42 - 57
4:12 Roger Pogoy shoots an airball
3:58 Kiefer Ravena drives and scores 44 -57
3:38 Anthony Hargrove loses the ball on an errant pass. FEU turnover.
3:25 Kiefer to Chris Newsome who buries a three 47 – 57. FEU calls a time out.
3:19 Von Pessumal steals the ball, passes to Kiefer, gets the ball back and sinks a three pointer that was listed as a two point shot.  49 - 57
3:10 Mike Tolomia misses on the drive.
2:59 Kiefer Ravena misses another three pointer and Mac Belo rebounds the ball
2:40 Mike Tolomia drives to the hoop & misses a floater.
2:26 Kiefer eludes his defenders to score on a lay up 51 – 57.
2:07 Anthony Hargrove drives to the hoop and is fouled by G-Boy Babilonia. Hargrove sinks one of two free throws. 58 – 51 lead by FEU.

Gwyne Capacio jumper to beat the buzzer

1:57 Kiefer Ravena drives to the hoop and is fouled again. Kiefer sinks both free throws, 53-58.
1:40 FEU swings the ball from one side to another to find an open Anthony Hargrove who tries to dunk the ball but got hacked by Nico Elorde. Hargrove misses two free throws.
1:28 Von Pessumal passes the ball to a cutting Chris Newsome who gives the ball to an open G-Boy Babilonia who scores, gets fouled and sinks the bonus free throw 56 – 58
1:10 Carl Cruz misses an open three pointer
1:03  Chris Newsome passes the ball to a cutting G-Boy Babilonia who misses the left handed layup.
0:40 Mac Belo makes a spin move but misses the shot.
0:32 Kiefer Ravena drives to the hoop but turns the ball over
0:27 Mike Tolomia is fouled on the fastbreak. Ateneo challenges Von Pessumal’s two point shot which was eventually called as a three pointer. 58 – 57. Tolomia sinks one of two free throws 59 – 57
0:20 Kiefer Ravena drives and is fouled. Kiefer sinks both free throws 59 - all.
0:03 Mike Tolomia is fouled by Kiefer Ravena, goes to the free throw line and misses both free throws. After Tolomia misses the free throw the ball is tapped out in favor of Ateneo.
0:02 Kiefer Ravena misses jumper. Game goes to overtime.

Nico Elorde three points

What an amazing run for the Blue Eagles to force overtime. In overtime, Nico Elorde started the period by sinking a three pointer. Kiefer followed it up with two free throws and Chris Newsome scored on a floater. This gave the the Blue Eagles their biggest lead of the game at seven points with 2:45 to go. Nerves of steel. The Blue Eagles eventually sealed the win with a split by both Kiefer and Fonzo. In that Ateneo run the Blue Eagles went 7 for 7 from the free throw line while the Tamaraws were 2 for 9 for a measly 22% shooting. The Tamaraws turned the ball over five times and their confidence was quite shattered.

The Ateneo Sixth Man 

The Blue Eagles were scouted well by the Tamaraws which resulted in various defensive plays that prevented the Blue Eagles from running their potent offense. Unfortunately for the Tamaraws, there is one thing that they failed to factor in – the heart of the Blue Eagles and the support of the Ateneo’s sixth man. If you look back at the long tradition of excellence of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, these two factors always work hand in hand in turning something impossible, possible. This Blue Eagle win against the FEU Tamaraws will be another story that will be told again and again and will be part of Ateneo basketball lore as a part of the Blue Eagle’s road to excellence in the UAAP. After two arduous rounds and a lot of obstacles along the way. The Blue Eagles are back on top of the UAAP. Who would have thought that at team with lots of new faces would come out as the # 1 team – only Ateneans believe in that. Just like what Ateneans say to the other UAAP teams - Guys, Look who's number 1! See you on September 24, 2014  when the final four resumes. One Big Fight!

The scores:

Ravena 23, Newsome 13, Gotladera 9, Pessumal 7, Capacio 6, Babilonia 5, Elorde  3, V. Tolentino 2, A. Tolentino 0, Doliguez 0,

FEU (64)
Belo 16, Pogoy 15, Tolomia 10, Cruz 8, Hargrove 8, Inigo 3, Jose 2, Tamsi 0, Lee 0, Denila 0

Quarterscores: 7 – 12,  18 -25, 26 – 45,  59 – all, 68 - 64  

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