Head coach Bo Perasol may not be around, but defending champion Ateneo De Manila University took care of business just the same, outlasting University of the East, 77-72, in UAAP men’s basketball Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Blue Eagles, winner of five consecutive titles, shook off a spotty performance in the first three quarters to come alive and battle the Red Warriors toe-to-toe in the fourth.
Perasol is serving a one-game suspension after he confronted a De La Salle University fan right after Ateneo’s game against De La Salle University last week.
The loss erased UE’s chances of making the Final Four and gave Ateneo a tie for fourth place With University of Santo Tomas.
The two teams share a 7-5 win-loss card.
Skipper Kiefer Ravena, who scattered a season-high 22 points, hit six straight points in Ateneo’s dazzling 18-3 run in the third quarter that dissolved a 12-point deficit and put the Blue Eagles ahead 52-49 with less than four minutes left in the last quarter.
UE made a last-ditch try to regain the lead but could only narrow the gap to 69-72 with two minutes remaining.
Ravena scored a lay up to provide the Blue Eagles a 74-69 cushion that was good enough for the win.
Rookie Chris Newsome added 19 points and eight rebounds for the Blue Eagles.
Assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga subbed for Perasol
The Red Warriors, who lost their fourth consecutive game, fell to 5-7, will miss the Final Four for a fourth straight season. They were the pre-season favorite after winning the Filoil Flying V pre-season basketball Cup.
Shej Roi Sumang led UE with 27 points while 6’8 Charles Mammie had 11 points and 17 rebounds.
JOSEF T. RAMOS