Blue Eagles

Ateneo -La Salle Round 2 : More Players Doesn’t Guarantee a Win

Analyzing this game is difficult. For Ateneo, you know what to expect. It’s the Phenom. Wherever Kiefer Ravena goes, Ateneo goes. So I guess for DLSU, the strategy is simple: Stop Kiefer. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Kiefer burned them in their last outing with consecutive 3-pointers. But Kiefer can’t do it alone. Since DLSU is bigger, it is imperative that the outside sniping of Von Pessumal, Chris Newsome and Arvin Tolentino hit their marks. The Ateneo big men are expected to hold the fort but can Gotladera shine again? Will DLSU prepare for Gotladera? Hack-A-Gotladera? It’s a legitimate strategy but I feel it’s such a cop out. I hope Gotladera spent some time polishing his free throws.

At the moment I believe DLSU only has 9 players. For sure Thomas Torres is out. Some people decry that situation but hey they could’ve filled up all the slots but they opted only for 14 players. Well, this team was built to be 3-strong per position. Someone goes down, someone else can step up. I’m sure the injured players are dying to play. THIS IS ATENEO – LA SALLE FOR PETE’S SAKE! All stats go out the window for now. This is for school pride. DLSU is the defending champion and they are aching for PAYBACK since losing in the first round. Jeron Teng will probably get his usual numbers, if not a bit more since he will try to carry this team. Same with Almond Vosotros whose 3-point shooting must go in to open the Ateneo defense. But Ateneo’s biggest thorn will be Jason Perkins. Expect Perkins to manhandle his defenders. Does Perasol and the rest of the Ateneo team have something special for him? Maybe they do. Ateneo was able to shackle the powerful Mammie in the 2nd half of their last game versus UE.

So who is going to win? Hard to say. Too many intangibles and unforeseen circumstances. I would say ATENEO has the edge in this game.  Maybe they can exploit their manpower advantage. But one thing  must happen, Ateneo must exhibit the killers’ instinct because DLSU is dangerous and out for vengence. Moreover, the sixth man of the Blue Eagles – the crowd cheering “ONE BIG FIGHT!” – have to be in full force to motivate the team. No lead is safe against DLSU. One misstep and we will pay. Expect all-out war on Sunday. Abangan!

BTW I wonder what uniform the coaches will use for the game. Do they dare…?

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Maybe The Best Ateneo Come-From-Behind Victory Ever

Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo De Manila University dribbles between the legs of Renz Palma of University of the East. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images)

Ok so it’s the first round of the UAAP and Ateneo may have come from even bigger margins before, but for its game against University of the East, Ateneo was playing with a smaller lineup against a team team that had two athletic African imports and an inspired All-Star guard. After the first quarter, I’m sure it seemed to many that Ateneo was going to get steamrolled this game. Everything went UE’s way. Charles Mammie was lording it over everybody. The UE press disrupted the Ateneo offense which led to many turnovers and easy baskets. Roi Sumang was playing well while Kiefer Ravena was 2/9 with 12 points.

Luckily basketball is a tale of two halves. In sports, it’s not how you start but how you finish that counts. An Ateneo recruiter friend mentioned that at the start of the second half, Kiefer had his “Kobe-look” and that would mean problems for UE.

Whatever the Ateneo coaching staff told its players during the break worked big-time. Somehow UE couldn’t get the ball to Mammie down low. The UE press slowed down the Ateneo offense but didn’t result in turnovers anymore. The Ateneo offense started to click under the leadership of Kiefer. The second half became the Ravena-Sumang show leaving the whole arena in awe. With five minutes to go, Ateneo was behind by 12 and down by 6 with 2 minutes to go.  Then Ateneo made it’s run and tied the score at 80-all resulting in the first overtime game this UAAP season. In the extra period it was still the Ravena-Sumang show. Ateneo controlled most of the overtime period and won 93-91.  Ravena had a career high 38 points while Sumang had 30.

UE should be actually performing better than its 2-4 current standing. It’s just that they start strong but somehow in the second half they collapse. This happened to them in their tiff against La Salle. I regard them as a “hard-luck” team because they seem to lose when they should be winning! Somehow their opponents just end the game stronger than them.

At the start of the season, I projected UE to be a Top 3 team behind DLSU and NU with Ateneo, FEU and UST fighting for the last Final Four spot. UE can still make the Final Four but they have to start winning fast! Assuming it takes 8 wins to make it there, they have to win 6 out of their last 8 games.

Ateneo on the other hand is at an enviable 6-1 standing. Their only loss was to a tall and athletic NU team which defended Kiefer well the entire game. I have said before: wherever Kiefer goes, Ateneo will go. The Blue Eagles live and die with the Phenom. For two straight games now he played hero to win close games. Can he do it again in the second round? I hope so with the help of his supporting cast.