UAAP: Ateneo thwarts La Salle to set up title rematch with UST-A A +A
Saturday, September 29, 2012
JUST when everyone thought that La Salle will force a decider against archrival Ateneo, Kiefer Ravena took charge in the final quarter to propel the Blue Eagles to their fifth straight championship appearance in the 75th UAAP men’s basketball tournament Saturday.
With the win, the top-seeded Ateneo marched on to arrange a title rematch with second-running University of Santo Tomas (UST) in next week’s finals. Both squads last met in 2006, when the Tigers humbled the Eagles in three gruelling contests.
“La Salle gave us a great fight. We have to give credit to La Salle. They are the top defensive team. This is Final Four already and we have to suck it up and go the extra mile. Good thing, we were able to get the victory,” Ravena told reporters at the Araneta Coliseum.
Saturday’s Final Four encounter saw Ateneo crumbling in the third quarter, only to bounce back in the payoff period with Ravena dropping 12 straight points to carry the Eagles from 10 points down to move within two, 53-55.
He then dished an assist to Juami Tiongson to tie the knot at 55-all before he connected from downtown to put Ateneo ahead, 58-55, for the first time since leading by six before the intermission, 31-26.
Bigman Greg Slaughter, who failed to display his dominance in the paint, made it a four-point cushion, 61-57, with 2:43 left but the Archers just refused to raise the white flag as Almond Vosotros’ bucket wrested back the lead, 62-61.
Courtesy of Ravena’s feed, Ryan Buenafe knocked in his first triple in six attempts to reclaim the advantage, 64-62, as Ravena was called for an unsportsmanlike infraction in the next play against rookie Jeron Teng.
Teng split his freebies to make it 64-63 for Ateneo with 15.6 ticks to go but he later squandered the opportunity for the Archers to escape with an upset victory when the ball slipped out of his hands.
Buenafe’s free throws listed the final score.
“We’d be rusty offensively because we’ve been off for two weeks. I expected this to happen especially in the first half. We’re struggling a bit,” Ateneo coach Norman Black said, who will guide his wards for the last time before jumping to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to head the Talk ‘N Text bench.
Ravena finished with a career-high 28 points plus 12 rebounds while Nico Salva and Buenafe combined for 22 markers. Yutien Andrada, who led La Salle in the 21-7 third quarter spurt, also posted a personal-best 17 points to go with six boards and three blocks.
Game 1 of the best-of-three finals will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Saturday, October 6. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)