Thirdy Ravena is bracing for what he described as “another half of basketball” as Ateneo battles defending champion Far Eastern University tomorrow in a do-or-die UAAP Final Four match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ravena and the Blue Eagles lost a 10-point fourth quarter lead last Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena, allowing to the Tamaraws to escape with a 62-61 victory that forged an all-for-nothing duel for the right to face the La Salle Green Archers in a best-of-three title series.
“It’s not yet done,” Ravena said. “It’s another half on Wednesday, we have to stay positive and be prepared for what they are about to do.”
It was Ateneo’s first loss to FEU this season after sweeping their two meetings in the elimination round. A third win loomed when Aaron Black erupted for seven straight points to open the fourth to create a 49-39 lead.
But FEU suddenly came to life when Raymar Jose unleashed a rebounding spree and Monbert Arong made the clutch shots and key free throws that ended Ateneo’s six-game winning streak.
It also didn’t help that Ateneo struggled shooting from the field, particularly from rainbow territory.
The Blue Eagles shot just 6-of-36 shooting against the Tamaraws defense, including several during the Tams comeback in the final five minutes.
Black, who was benched by coach Tab Baldwin after his scoring eruption, is optimistic, saying that they had the Tamaraws all figured out.
“We’ll make adjustments and we now know what their schemes are, and we’ll try to capitalize on that,” Black said.
Center Isaac Go is hoping that he, Chibueze Ikeh, Raffy Verano and the rest of the Blue Eagles frontline could counter Jose, who finished with 23 rebounds, and FEU’s other big man in Nigerian center Prince Orizu.
“I think we just have to be more physical,” Go mentioned. “They were able to impose on us early in the fourth quarter, so we just have to put more of a fight.”