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Sans Ravena, 6-peat bid begins for Ateneo against NU

By Josiah Albelda Posted Jun 30th 2013

Ateneo de Manila University begins its quest for a sixth straight title without its top gunner against top contender National University.

The climb begins.

Ateneo de Manila University faces who could be their stiffest challenger for the title in National University when both teams make their debut in the 76th UAAP men's basketball tournament at 4 p.m. on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Unfortunately for the Blue Eagles, they would be making it without chief gunner Kiefer Ravena.

"He won't play," said coach Bo Perasol after Ravena tweeted he will be missing a UAAP game for the first time, only to retract it later and say he will be suiting up.

"I don't want to jeopardize his long-term career by allowing him to play if he is not totally healed."

Ravena is suffering from an ankle sprain and reportedly has been seen in campus wearing crutches.

And while it is bad news for Ateneo, the development will mean only good things for the Bulldogs, who will have one big problem solved in the backcourt.

NU owns a tremendous advantage down low, with their combination of Alfred Aroga, Jean Mbe and Troy Rosario expected to dominate the Eagles' young big man corps.

Reigning league MVP Bobby Ray Parks, too, will be leaned on by coach Eric Altamirano as they attempt to jumpstart their bid for a first-ever title for the Sampaloc-based school since 1957.

"If there is a year we can do it, this is the year," said Altamirano during the UAAP press conference. "But we have to prove ourselves."

Leading the charge for Ateneo will be debuting forward Chris Newsome and heady playmaker Juami Tiongson. Von Pessumal, who broke a finger in the preseason, is expected to be back in harness.

The game will air live on Studio 23, BALLS HD 167,, TFC Bro and with a same day replay at 10 p.m. on BALLS SkyCable channel 34 or Destiny Cable channel 36.