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FilOil: Ravena carries Ateneo past Letran

April 22, 2013 5:09pm

Ateneo's Keifer Ravena (C) fights to keep possesion against Mark Cruz (R) and Franz Dysam of Letran. KC Cruz

The Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles rediscovered their winning form on Monday, dispatching the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 88-81, Monday, in the FilOil Flying V Hanes Preseason Cup at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

The Eagles scored 31 points in the third quarter, including 13 by Kiefer Ravena, to put down a scrappy Letran squad that gave them fits. The Knights cut the lead late to six in the final minute of play, 87-81, on consecutive three-pointers by Mcjour Luib and Rey Nambatac, but couldn't come closer after failing to connect from the field, despite getting three shot attempts on one possession late.

Ravena led all scorers with 33 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals, while Chris Newsome added 13 points and 10 rebounds for Ateneo.

The Eagles bounced back from Saturday's loss to UST, and now hold a league-best 4-1 record. The Knights on the other hand lost their debut game in Group B of the tournament.

"This is one of the teams I wanted us to hurdle," said Eagles head coach Bo Perasol. "When physical teams [like Letran] play against my team, I tell my team that whatever it takes, we have to do some things we're not comfortable with for us to win."

Evidenced by their loss to the Tigers, Perasol said that Ateneo needs to keep its composure in end-game situations. "We have to mature as a team in the end-game. I told them that we took the game up to the end," he said, adding that the Eagles could've wrapped this game up earlier if not for turnovers down the stretch as well.

"It's going to take some time for us to build that kind of character. We have to learn it together so we enjoy it together as well."

The first quarter was a contrast of styles as Ateneo forced turnovers and looked to run at every opportunity. Kiefer Ravena and Chris Newsome streaked to the rim, scoring 14 of the Eagle's first 20 points. Meanwhile, Letran got contributions outside from veterans Mark Cruz, and Jonathan Belorio, as well as rookie Rey Nambatac. The Knights also took advantage of the occasional mismatch resulting from Ateneo gambling on steals, to trail 20-18.

With two minutes to play, Blue Eagle Nico Elorde nailed a three-pointer to trigger an 11-2 run to close the quarter, 31-20.

In the second period, the Knights took better care of the ball and got back in transition, forcing Ateneo to grind it out in the halfcourt setting. Letran found a couple transition baskets courtesy of Cruz and Nambatac, and whittled the lead to six after Cruz was fouled away from the ball, 37-31, with five minutes to play.

However, the Blue Eagles adjusted on both ends, conceding only two more field goals the rest of the way while finding ways to score. A Ravena kick-out led to a Newsome trey with under two minutes to play, punctuating their effort in the quarter, to take a 44-35 lead at the half.

After two quarters, Ateneo made 17-of-33 from the field (52 percent) against the Knights' 12-of-31 mark (39 percent).

Mark Cruz (C) finds himself trapped amidst of blue-and-white shirts. KC Cruz

Letran exploited the Eagles inside at the start of the third, overpowering defenders and putting Ateneo into the penalty with barely three minutes gone in the quarter. Nambatac was fouled away from the ball and split from the line, giving the Knights a 45-44 lead.

The Eagles turned to Ravena to get to the rim, and the third year guard scored six of their next 10 points. Letran matched their output with quick-hitters from Nambatac and Belorio, as the latter tied the game on the break, 54-54.

Ateneo gained separation after Ravena hit a trey and got the other Eagles into the mix. Von Pessumal hit two triples in the last three minutes, combining with Newsome for 10 points in a 21-8 romp, erecting a 75-62 lead after three quarters.

Early in the fourth quarter, Franz Dysam hit Vince Tolentino with a forearm to the jaw, resulting in a disqualifying foul. Tolentino made the resulting two from the line, to give the Eagles an 80-63 lead.

Letran bounced back as Almazan attacked the basket, scoring four straight points and drawing Ravena's fourth personal foul with barely three minutes into the period. The Knights barreled to the rim to draw contact and cut their deficit to single digits, 82-73, on split charity tries by Cruz with four minutes to play.

Ravena checked back in on the next Ateneo possession and scored their next five, but the Knights were finding their touch at the right time, as Mcjour Luib and Nambatac made back-to-back triples with under a minute to play, 87-81.

The Knights had a chance to make it close after an offensive foul was called on Juami Tiongson, giving them the ball back. Letran kept possession after a missed triple by Cruz was fumbled out of bounds with 32 seconds left, but the Knights would come no closer, failing to make two more field goal tries, while fouling Ravena with under 30 seconds to play. The guard then split from the line to seal the final score.

Ateneo made 29-of-58 from the field overall (50 percent), including 6-of-13 from three-point territory. In contrast, Letran made 7-of-28 from beyond the arc to finish the game with a 22-of-58 mark.

The Eagles also edged the Knights in rebounding (41-29) and turnover points (19-9).

Rey Nambatac scored a team-high 19 points for the Knights. Mark Cruz added 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Jonathan Belorio notched 12 points, while Raymond Almazan registered 11 points and 15 rebounds. - RAF/AMD, GMA News

The scores:

ADMU 88: Ravena 33, Newsome 13, Pessumal 9, Golla 8, Babilonia 8, Elorde 7, Tiongson 6, Tolentino 2, Asistio 2, Lim 0, Murphy 0
CSJL 81: Nambatac 19, Cruz 18, Belorio 12, Almazan 11, Luib 9, Gabawan 5, Castro 4, Dysam 3, Buenaflor 0, Almario 0, Ruaya 0, Publico 0

Quarter scoring: 31-20, 44-35, 75-62, 88-81
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