Ateneo falls to UST (and I am fine with it)
by rick olivares
The UST Growling Tigers sent the Ateneo Blue Eagles to their first loss of the Filoil tournament, 63-57 last Saturday at the Arena of San Juan.
It would have been nice to win that game as we had our chances down the stretch but I do not feel bad at all. There is so much that can be learned from this. And while there is time to learn and adjust.
I previously wrote that we cannot solely rely on Kiefer Ravena to bail us out of trouble all the time and that the others need to step up. They did. But with Kiefer suffering through a miserable shooting day, that was the difference. The Phenom missed four or five layups that are normally as sure as the sun will come out everyday. And he didn’t have his touch from the outside.
Ravena shot 6-22 from the field (27%) and 1-4 from the free throw line (25%). In the previous game against EAC, he was 7-17 from the field (41%).
Playing every day has taken its toll on him and it clearly showed.
If he had his regular game, he would have been of massive support for Von Pessumal and Chris Newsome. Kief of course, is only human and will be back for sure.
What did I like about the game?
One, Von finally coming through. In four matches thus far, he is averaging 11.3 points per game. He is shooting 47% from the field. He’s doing what he did in high school, driving strong and hitting three while playing good defense.
Two, Chris Newsome can be a creative force. Love the isolation at the top where he can break down his defender or pass. If Chris can become quicker at this, he’ll be hard to stop. Gotta love the dunks. Even the missed ones where he tried to put in a missed shot. Shades of Rich Alvarez.
I am surprised, for a team that is supposed to be uptempo, we sure slow it down a lot. We only scored eight fastbreak points.
Three, we did not get run off the floor. A lot of people were expecting UST to massacre Ateneo. Only it didn’t happen. The Blue Eagles had a chance to win the game except for some gaffes on the offensive end and perhaps some miscues on the substitution pattern.
What didn’t I like?
Aljon Mariano scored two easy layups on Vince Tolentino because he kept backing up rather than standing his ground and forcing him to pass. Inside the lane is easy money for Mariano. The correct term is “minama”.
Even Clark Bautista knows he’s stronger than Nico Elorde that he would bump his way inside.
Maybe at that point Frank Golla or ever Gboy Babilonia or Chris Newsome should have been on him. But Vince will learn. He’s only in his first year in Team A and that kind of hoops is way different from Team B games.
And Pessumal was left on the bench in the late stages of the game.
But 45-39 in the rebounding department? Not bad but something that can be worked on.
But take a look at this – UST shot 26 free throws while Ateneo shot only 11. We used to lead in that department. Sure, there were the usual calls against the blue and white but they weren’t enough to change the complexion of the game.
We can argue that Ryan Buenafe and JP Erram didn’t play and that Kiefer had a bad day. We’re lucky too that Jeric Teng was off and that Karim Abdul was in petiks mode for the second consecutive game.
So again, I do not feel bad. There are plenty of things to learn for both teams in this game. The Ateneo coaching staff has not had the benefit of a full and complete team (maybe except for one Fr. Martin’s Cup game) but other than that, players are in and out of the injury list.
One thing is for sure, we need to get bigger. If some guys need to be dropped from Team A for some other taller players on Team B, maybe it should be considered.
Looking at UST, they either have Jeric Teng, Aljon Mariano, or even Clark Bautista bring down the ball. I am surprised that we did not press them. Sure we do not have have the Dobermans to do that but why not give it a try. There is success when it is run so why not keep at it? They do not have a bench so why not repeatedly attack them and get them into foul trouble. Instead we settle for jumpshots. I didn’t think their defense was that great. We had a lot of unforced errors and a lack of awareness among some players (read: the chemistry isn’t there yet).
This is by no means a chastisement of the coaching staff as I do not know everything that goes on with them. And of course, they have not had the benefit of a full and healthy team to work with. Besides, this is the ultimate lab test for the new team (sportswriters please know that this is not the same team as the one that played last season). But take it for what it is, questions not criticism. The support for you is always there.
And at the end of the day, I thought that in all four matches thus far, the Ateneo Blue Eagles were competitive until the last second of the game. And sometimes, that is all you ever ask for. That One Big Fight. Bad shooting day and all.