Ravena and Ikeh shine as Blue Eagles secure season opener over Adamson
THE ATENEO Blue Eagles garnered their first win of the season, 85-65, against the Adamson University (AdU) Soaring Falcons on September 9, Saturday, at the Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City.
With their inaugural victory, Ateneo advanced to a 1-0 slate, while the Soaring Falcons fell to 0-1 in Season 80 of the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
The Katipunan-based squad were led by the duo of Thirdy Ravena and Chibueze Ikeh, with the former scoring 20 and grabbing 1o boards while the latter recorded 18 points along with 17 rebounds. Jolo Mendoza also added 14 points on 3/4 shooting from deep in 14 minutes.
Kurt Lojera led the way for the Soaring Falcons scoring 11 points on 56% shooting. Keith Zaldivar scored five of his 10 points from the free throw line, while Jerrick Ahanmisi had an off night shooting the basketball, managing only nine points on 4/16 shooting from the field.
Adamson’s starting center Papi Sarr was ruled out of the match because of an apparent groin injury while Ateneo rookie guard Tyler Tio did not play due to precautionary measures from a mild ankle sprain.
Ikeh's dominant first quarter boosted the Blue Eagles to an early lead. The Nigerian center assisted a pair of baskets by Vince Tolentino and scored nine—capped by an and-1 dunk. The Soaring Falcons were able to capitalize on turnovers and shaky defense by Ateneo, which kept them within striking distance. Back-to-back triples by White and Mendoza gave the Blue Eagles a nine-point lead (25-16) to end the high-scoring first period.
The pace of the game slowed down in the ensuing quarter, with free throws becoming the main source of points for both squads. The Blue Eagles tightened up their perimeter defense and continued to dominate on the boards. Ahanmisi's scoring woes hindered the Soaring Falcons' attack, with the guard only managing three shots from 12 tries in the half. Ravena and Anton Asistio spearheaded a two-man 9-3 run towards the end of the quarter to give the Blue Eagles the lead at the half (43-28).
The third period featured back-and-forth action from both sides. Adamson could not contain their opponent's free-flowing offense early in the period, with Ateneo's lead even stretching to 20 (59-39) after a Mendoza pull-up triple midway through the period.
Adamson then went on a 15-4 run that spanned through the end of the third until the first few minutes of the fourth. Lojera had six points during that stretch, which cut Ateneo’s lead to single digits (63-54). This proved to be the closest the Soaring Falcons could get as back-to-back steals by Matt Nieto and a dagger three by Mendoza sealed the opening win for the Blue Eagles.
Rebounding was the telling statistic in the game, as the Eagles finished with a 25-rebound edge (60-35). With Sarr not on the floor, the Ateneo bigs had a field day particularly on the offensive glass, grabbing 29 offensive boards leading to 15 more shots than the Soaring Falcons.
After the game, assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga commended Ikeh on his standout performance. “We were not surprised that Ikeh had a good game,” he said. “[Ikeh] has been playing well for us in the past few weeks during practices. He stepped up his game.”
The Blue Eagles are looking to keep up the good start with heightened expectations in their next contest as they face the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons on Wednesday, September 13 at 4:00 PM in the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Ateneo-AdU: 25-16, 43-28, 59-45, 85-65
Ateneo: Ravena - 20, Ikeh - 18, Mendoza - 14, Asistio - 9, Tolentino - 7, Go - 4, Ma.Nieto - 3, White - 3, Porter - 3, Nieto - 2, Black - 2
AdU: Lojera - 11, Zaldivar - 10, Ahanmisi - 9, Manganti - 9, Hill - 6, Manalang - 6, Pingoy - 5, Ochea - 3, Camacho - 3, Bernardo - 3