Ateneo completes drive for five-A A +A
Thursday, October 11, 2012
MANILA (Updated) -- No Game 3 this time.
With University of Santo Tomas (UST) putting up a huge scare, Ateneo de Manila preserved its poise in the final moments of the payoff period to eke out a 65-62 victory and clinched a fifth consecutive University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball title Thursday.
Before an electric crowd of 20,186 at the Araneta Coliseum, the Ateneo Blue Eagles dispatched the UST Growling Tigers in Game 2 of the best-of-three series, avoiding a winner-take-all showdown supposedly scheduled on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Since the introduction of the Final in 1994, 15 out of 19 Game 1 winners like Ateneo went on to bag the crown. The championship phase, meanwhile, went the distance eight times during the stretch.
Just like in 2006, when Ateneo won by a hairline in Game 1 before dropping two consecutive matches against UST en route to its 18th overall title.
Luckily for Ateneo, the dreaded rubber match didn't turn into reality six years later.
“UST didn't give this championship to us easily. They made it difficult for us the entire year,” sophomore hotshot Kiefer Ravena said.
Ravena’s step-back jumper put the Eagles ahead by six, 65-59, with 30 seconds left but Jeric Fortuna trimmed the lead to three, 65-62. Juami Tiongson squandered his charities in the next play as the Tigers tried to send the game into overtime but failed.
That came after Tiongson pounced on an errant pass to Fortuna and stole the ball, milking the clock until the final buzzer to the delight of blue-clad fans.
For graduating forward Nico Salva, this championship is the sweetest in his five years with the Hail Mary dribblers. Salva, a standout from San Beda College High School, entered the Eagles’ lair as a victor and will hang his uniform with five straight crowns.
“There's nothing like leaving your school with a win,” he told reporters.
Coach Norman Black, meanwhile, said the challenge now is how to keep on winning. Black will be moving to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) this month while Salva, Justin Chua, Tonino Gonzaga and Oping Sumalinog will no longer see action in the 76th season.
“Even if I leave, it will be strong because of the foundation we built, even if we're losing key players,” he said.
Salva, who was adjudged as Finals Most Valuable Player after norming 19 points in the series, finished his UAAP career with eight points and six rebounds.
Ravena had 22 points, five rebounds and three steals while bigman Greg Slaughter, who made up for a sloppy Game 1, contributed 15 markers and hauled 11 boards.
Fortuna led the Tigers with 20 points and eight rebounds.
“It’s done. It was really for them (Ateneo),” said UST mentor Pido Jarencio.
Ateneo (65)- Ravena 22, Slaughter 15, Tiongson 10, Salva 8, Chua 6, Gonzaga 3, Sumalinog 1, Golla 0, Elorde 0, Buenafe 0.
UST (62)- Fortuna 20, Teng 9, Lo 8, Abdul 8, Ferrer 7, Bautista 6, Mariano 4, Vigil 0, Pe 0, Afuang 0.
Quarterscores: 13-14, 29-29, 47-46, 65-62. (Sunnex)