Kiefer Ravena was again clutch as he provided the points which helped lift the Ateneo De Manila University Blue Eagles to a hard-earned 78-73 victory over University of the East.
With the victory Ateneo regained sole possession of the lead in the 77th University Athletic Association of the Philippines at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
With the game tied, Ravena, who played with foul trouble early, converted two free throws with 1:15 remaining to give the Blue Eagles a slim 73-71 edge heading into the final minute.
At the other end Renz Palma split his charities with 33.4 seconds left allowing the Red Warriors to remain in the game as they trimmed the difference to just a point, 73-72, for Ateneo.
But like countless times before Ravena displayed his composure down the stretch as he drained a triple from the left elbow triple over two challenging defenders to seal the game pushing Ateneo to a 76-72 lead.
The Blue Eagles improved to 7-2 and gained a half-game lead for first place as they inched closer to a Final Four berth. The Red Warriors slipped to 4-5 at sixth place.
Meanwhile, National University made quick work of ailing Adamson University, 71-50, in the first game to get back on the winning track and snap its two-game losing streak.
Gelo Alolino had a great game with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists. Glenn Khobuntin had 12 markers and six boards for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs improved to 6-3 and moved half-game behind league leaders Ateneo, De La Salle University and Far Eastern University.
Adamson kept pace with the Bulldogs early but NU detonated a 20-0 blast that gave it a commanding 32-14 cushion with 4:04 left before halftime breaking the game wide open. By intermission NU held an imposing 42-16 advantage over the Falcons.
”We’re very happy with the win. We had a very pivotal second quarter,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano in a published report.
The Falcons endured their ninth consecutive defeat as they languished in the cellar with a 0-9 record. The defeat formally eliminated them from the Final Four race.