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Eagles edge pesky Bulldogs

THE Ateneo De Manila University needed two overtimes, but had enough gas left to beat defending champion National University Bulldogs, 74-70, in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.

Kiefer Ravena forced two overtimes and then relied on Chibueze Ikeh, who dominated the boards and scored six marginal free throws to power Ateneo to the scrambling victory.

Ravena split two charities, then scored the final points on a breakaway layup to finalize the count.

Gelo Alolino broke down the Ateneo defense to score on a layup to grab back the lead for NU, 61-60, with 55 seconds to play in overtime.

Ateneo could not score  and Ralph Tansingco drilled a free throw to push NU ahead by two, 62-60.

Ravena then drove inside to tie the game at 62-all with just 5.7 seconds left to play to force the second overtime.

The Bulldogs seemed headed to victory late in the fourth period after Kyle Neypes hit a triple, followed by an outside shot by Alolino, which pushed NU to a six-point, 54-48, lead with 3:10 to go in the game.

But Ravena just would not give up. He scored back-to-back baskets, the second when he recovered his own miss then drove in to score his 10th point to cut the gap to just three points, 55-52, for NU.

Jerie Pingoy then converted two free throws to peg the count, 55-54, for NU.

The Ateneo Blue Eagles, with the option to foul the worst free throw shooter of the Bulldogs, fouled NU’s best free throw shooter Alolino instead. Alolino drilled both free throws to hike the NU lead to three points, 57-54, with just 16.7 seconds to play.

Ateneo’s Von Pessumal couldn’t inbound and was called for a five second violation. But Alolino lost control of the ball giving Ateneo possession.

Ravena, who at that point had been missing his outside shots all game long (0 of 6 from 3-point distance), drilled a step back triple to send the game into overtime at 57-all.

The Bulldogs erected a big lead early in the third. Kyle Neypes drilled a jumper; Alfred Aroga drove in strong to score on a left-handed layup; and Mohammad Al-Yusouf Salim stole the ball then soared in for a layup to push NU to a five-point, 41-36 lead with 1:40 to go in the third period.

But the Blue Eagles battled right back. John Apacible tipped in the basketball as time expired to cut the NU lead to just one point, 43-42, after three quarters.

Meanwhile, rookie Bonbon Batiller, newly transferred from General Santos City, scattered a game-high 23 points to power the University of the East Red Warriors past the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, 89-78.

UE (2 wins, 1 loss) posted its second consecutive victory in the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball tournament after dropping its initial game to wheel back into contention.

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