Eaglets win back-to-back
By Alder T. Almo of UAAPSports.com
Manila – Kiefer Ravena played the perfect decoy as the Ateneo Blue Eaglets won back-to-back titles after eking out a 61-56 victory against the De La Salle Zobel Junior Archers in the 72nd UAAP Juniors basketball Finals on Thursday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ravena sealed the win two free throws in the last 4.6 seconds but more than that, it was his savvy playmaking that helped the Eaglets capture their 17th title overall.
Ravena, the 15-year old son of former PBA Rookie of the Year Bong and former volleyball player Mozzy, finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and two steals in a superb all-around game. He averaged 16.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.0 block in the series to capture the Finals MVP plum.
Ravena’s last assist set up Paolo Romero for an easy basket as the Eaglets pulled away in the tightly-fought contest, 59-55, in the final 35.5 seconds. The game saw seven deadlocks and seven lead changes, with the Eaglets capitalizing in the end game.
The Junior Archers, which bled for only two free throws in the final five minutes, could not buy a basket as they helplessly watched the Eaglets escape with the victory.
Romero scored six of his 12 points in the final 3:34 of the game as Ateneo overhauled a 53-54 deficit midway in the fourth quarter.
“Fortunately for us, they could not convert. I knew that with a two-point lead in a game like that, the pressure is really high. So if we’re able to convert and get a two-point lead, we had a chance to win it in the final minute,” Eaglets coach Jamike Jarin said.
“I’m lucky that I am surrounded by great players and coaches,” Jarin added.
This championship is Jarin’s seventh with the Eaglets since taking the reins in 1998.
It was a disappointing end for the top seed Junior Archers, who never find their groove that gave them a 12-2 record in the eliminations.
DLSZ coach Boris Aldeguer cited after their close 57-53 win in Game 2 that the long lay-off has caused them to lose momentum.
“Pagkatapos naming manalo sa Final Four, gigil na gigil na ang mga players ko na maglaro sa Finals. We lose some momentum when the Finals got twice postponed. Hindi pa kami 100%,” Aldeguer said.
It showed in the series as they succumbed to pressure especially in the final five minutes of Game 3 where they failed to score a single field goal.
It was Aldeguer’s first loss in the Finals since assuming the head coaching job in the DLSZ in 2004. The Junior Archers won the 2005 and 2007 championship with him.
ADMU 61 – Banal 16, Romero 12, Pessumal 10, Ravena 9, Sinco 3, Pe 3, Tim Capacio 3, Dumrique 2, Bugarin 2, Reyes 1.
DLSZ 56 – Gwynne Capacio 15, Dela Paz 14, Van Opstal 9, Elorde 8, Herrera 6, Roxas 2, Park 2, Sevilla 0, Fortuna 0.
Quarters: 14-8, 22-22, 42-41, 61-56.
More details to follow.