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Blue Eaglets drub Junior Archers, extend UAAP reign

October 8, 2009 3:20pm
Ateneo de Manila proved it’s more than just a Kiefer Ravena team in beating top seed De La Salle-Zobel, 61-51, and extending its reign as champions in the UAAP juniors’ basketball tournament Thursday at the Big Dome.

The Blue Eaglets drew a big game from unheralded center Paolo Romero, who fired 12 points, including two short stabs that gave them a 59-55 cushion entering the final 35.5 seconds of the deciding Game 3.
UAAP juniors division Finals most valuable player Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo credits his teammates for their back-to-back title romp in Season 72. Jeff Venancio

A non-factor in the first two games of the series, Romero also grabbed six rebounds to complement the game-high 16 points from Raphael Banal and Von Pessumal’s 10 markers.

But Ravena, who was eventually adjudged Finals most valuable player (MVP), delivered in the other departments, dishing out two crucial assists to Romero that keyed Ateneo’s title-clinching victory.

The son of former PBA star Bong Ravena, who averaged 16 points in the three-game series including a 33-point outburst in their Game 1 victory, credited his teammates for the triumph.

“Hindi sila nawala sa likod ko. I was forcing shots during the game pero nandoon pa rin sila, nag-cheer sa akin at sinasabi sa akin na kailangan nila ako. Nag-respond naman ako sa mga sinabi nila," said the 15-year-old Ravena, who had nine points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals for the back-to-back champs.

It was Ateneo’s 17th UAAP juniors' title overall, the Blue Eaglets’ seventh under coach Jamike Jarin.

“Every championship is sweet, but I’ll be lying if I said that this is not the hardest. Sabi nga nila, kung ano ‘yung mahirap, ‘yun ang pinakamasarap," said Jarin.

His wards did not have a dominating season, opening their title-defense with two straight losses and eventually settled for the No. 3 seed in the Final Four. They then had to beat No. 2 University of Santo twice in the Final Four to qualify for the finals against the No. 1 Junior Archers.

Jamike took responsibility for the sluggish start.

“That was my fault. We came in confident. We did good in the preseason, we had big heads and I wasn’t able to control that. Sometimes, I forget that they are 15-year-olds,"he said.

But more than just being champions, Jamike is proud that his boys are also winners outside the game.

“It’s all about character formation for the boys. But the championship is only a bonus. So I’m happy that character was formed and we are able to get the bonus," said Jarin.

Proof of this character? Top gun Ravena approached Gwynne Capacio over at the other camp after the game, consoling the Junior Archers’ ace who was devastated over their failed bid. - GMANews.TV
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