La Salle's Julian Sargent (R) challenges Ateneo's Kiefer Ravena (L). Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo guard Kiefer Ravena took the blame for the Blue Eagles' close loss to archrivals De La Salle University in the second round of the UAAP Season 77 tournament, even as he also acknowledged the solid defense of the Green Archers.
"I take the blame for this game," Ravena said after La Salle defeated Ateneo, 88-86, on Sunday to hand the Blue Eagles their second loss of the season.
Ravena, the UAAP's leading scorer and top MVP contender, scored a team-high 22 points but only made eight of his 23 field goal attempts and missed crucial shots in crunch time when the game was still within reach for Ateneo.
"It's all on me to find a way to make it work for us," added Ravena, who had hit clutch shots for Ateneo in their first round games but could not replicate his feat against La Salle Sunday.
Asked if La Salle did anything special on defense, Ravena conceded that rookie Julian Sargent was "pretty strong and quick," and that Robert Bolick also played "plain good D."
"It was just me not making my shots," he quickly added. "I have to do that. It's not an excuse for me na they played good D. I have to make it work, not just for me but also for my teammates."
La Salle coach Juno Sauler said the only thing he told his players who were defending Ravena was to "keep challenging his jump shots, and hopefully, he'll miss."
"Ravena will always be Ravena," added Sauler. "He'll play that way, and the best thing you can do is just keep challenging his shot and hope that he misses."
Meanwhile, Ateneo head coach Bo Perasol is confident that his star player can recover from his relatively subpar performance.
"Kiefer has been used to this," said Perasol. "He can find a way. I believe that he is going to bounce back. He will find a way, whether they double team him, they zone him, or they man him."
Ravena noted that the game still could have gone their way even though Ateneo got off to another flat start and went down by as much as 13 points in the first half. He was also complimentary of his teammates, especially Gwyne Capacio and Chris Newsome, both of which played big roles in the team's second half rally.
"We'll adjust," he added. "We'll find ways to improve, and we'll find ways to work with the defense that is thrown at me."