In what is easily the best game of the UAAP season, the Ateneo De Manila University Blue Eagles came back from 21 points down to defeat the University of the East Red Warriors 93-91 in overtime.
With one last shot at forcing a second overtime, Gino Jumao-as deliberately missed his second free throw with 1.5 seconds left in the hopes of a UE putback. However, rookie Arvin Tolentino grabbed the rebound as time expired.
King Eagle Kiefer Ravena once again played the hero's role for Ateneo as he forced overtime with a jumper off a play drawn up by Ateneo assistant coach Ronnie Magsanoc. In the overtime period, Ravena nailed a one-hander, similar to his last game-winner, to extend Ateneo’s lead to three at 88-85 with 1:35 left in the game. However, the King Eagle rolled his ankle during his landing.
After the Eagles forced a traveling violation on Charles Mammie, Ravena checked back into the game and nailed a cold-blooded triple for a 91-85 lead.
The Warriors responded with a long triple from Roi Sumang and a slam-dunk by Mammi to cut Ateneo’s lead down to one with 13 seconds left in the game.
Ravena was then fouled for a split on the line to give UE a shot at forcing another overtime period but Sumang was denied by three Eagles to force a turnover. Ravena scored another split from the line in their next possession but Thirdy Ravena fouled Jumao-as to give the Red Warriors one last shot at salvaging a win.
Ravena led Ateneo with 38 points, six rebounds, and nine assists in the game. Roi Sumang scored 30 points and dished out seven assists for UE but it was not enough to get the win.
With the win, Ateneo claimed the solo top spot for the first round of eliminations with a 6-1 record. UE on the other hand fell to 2-4.
The Red Warriors raced to a 15-4 lead to start the game as they forced Ateneo to turn the ball over seven times in the first five minutes. UE also flexed their muscles in the rebounding department led by Charles Mammie who took full advantage of Ateneo’s small frontline.
UE’s lead ballooned to 20 points at 26-6 after a free throw from Mammie.
Ateneo only made two field goals in the first while committing nine turnovers and nine fouls to allow the Warriors to grab a 28-10 lead.
UE was able to stretch their lead to 21 halfway through the second quarter but Von Pessumal replied with a three for a 38-20 count. The Eagles settled down towards the tail end of the second quarter but they still faced a 44-31 disadvantage heading into the break.
Ateneo came out of the dugout a different team as they started the third with a 7-0 run capped by a Ravena triple to force a UE timeout. The Eagles forced another turnover when play resumed leading to three free throws from Ravena to cut UE’s lead down to three at 44-41.
The Warriors refused to relinquish the lead as Mammie continued to dominate the boards. A triple from Sumang gave them a 55-44 lead with 3:32 left in the third. Bong Galanza added another triple on the next possession to extend their lead to 14 and nullify Ateneo’s run.
Pessumal nailed a triple to cut UE’s lead down to six but Sumang responded with his own triple to stretch their lead to nine at 64-55 heading into the final quarter.
The start of the fourth quarter witnessed a red-hot Sumang as the point guard drilled two triples to extend the Red Warriors’ lead. UE grabbed a 73-58 lead but Ravena brought it back down to 13 with two free throws. Newsome added a free throw and Ravena nailed another three to take UE’s lead further down to nine points.
Newsome and Pessumal then nailed back to back triples to cut UE’s lead down to three at 73-70.
Galanza then nailed the game’s biggest shot with a cold blooded three to extend their lead to six 78-72 with less than two minutes left in the game. However, Pessumal responded with his own triple to keep Ateneo in the game.
In the next possession, Sumang made a difficult baseline jumper with two defenders on him but Newsome responded on the other side with a three point play to cut UE’s lead down to a single basket, 80-78, with 38.8 seconds left in the game.
Like in their game against UST, Ravena stepped up to tie the game with a jumper while Sumang missed a wild three point attempt to force overtime.
The Main Man: Ravena was by far the best performer for Ateneo as he had 38 points, six rebounds, and nine assists. However, his biggest contributions to the team were his important baskets down the stretch.
Honorable Mentions: Pessumal had 19 points on six of seven shooting from three while Newsome had 18 points, nine rebounds, and five assists to help Ravena out.
Game Turning Point: The game’s result was still in limbo until Tolentino grabbed the last rebounds. In terms of baskets, Ravena’s triple to give Ateneo a six-point lead was the most crucial.
He Said It:
Kiefer Ravena: It was a grind-it-out win for us. We started out flat, but we expected that. We're lucky and blessed enough to be on top. Hope we can continue from that and learn from our mistakes.
Ateneo (93) – K. Ravena 38, Pessumal 19, Newsome 18, Elorde 4, Babilonia 4, A. Tolentino 3, Apacible 2, T. Ravena 2, Gotladera 2, Capacio 1.
UE (91) – Sumang 30, Galanza 19, Mammie 18, Varilla 6, Guiang 6, Jumao-as 4, Olayon 4, Palma 4.
Quarters: 10-28, 31-44, 55-64, 80-80, 93-91.