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UST faces Ateneo in grudge match of last season’s finalists

By Anthony Divinagracia Posted Jul 27th 2013

Kevin Ferrer and the rest of the UST Growling Tigers seek revenge against UAAP Season 75 Finals tormentor Ateneo de Manila University.

Contrasting fortunes has made University of Santo Tomas (UST) and defending champion Ateneo de Manila University estranged bedfellows these days.

But the familiarity – and hostility – remains the same as last year’s finals protagonists duke it out today in the 76th UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.

The six-peat seeking Eagles (2-4) look to barge into the middle of the pack with a crucial victory over the second-running Tigers at 4 p.m.

UST hopes to elude that crowded bunch and go up at solo 5-2, following a 79-69 drubbing of still-winless University of the Philippines last Wednesday.

Versatile forward Aljon Mariano again stepped up in the absence of injured captain Jeric Teng, leading the Tigers’ decisive fourth-quarter assault en route to a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds. Mask-wearing swingman Kevin Ferrer backed him up with a double-double of 17 markers and 10 boards.

Karim Abdul and Clark Bautista also wound up in double figures with 14 and 12, respectively.

Yet for Jarencio, battling UP’s unexpected cellar-mate is another story.

“Hindi na ito yung team na tumalo sa amin nung finals at tinalo namin nung PCCL. Ibang team na ito, ibang players, ibang istorya. Ang coach iba na rin,” he said. “We will treat this as a regular game, pero kailangan pa rin naming manalo para ma-maintain namin yung no.2 spot.”

For Ateneo, which beat the Maroons, 72-64, last Sunday, stopping UST on its tracks is crucial if the Eagles want to keep their six-peat bid alive.

With star guard Kiefer Ravena slowly regaining his old fiery self, Ateneo coach Bo Perasol hopes that the Eagles can start turning things around by upending the Tigers.

“The good thing about us is that Kiefer is already 50 percent. You have to watch out for that other 50 percent,” he said of Ravena who is still recuperating from injury.

Ravena shared Perasol’s observation about the Eagles’ penchant for relaxing in the last two quarters, something they cannot afford to do against a second-half team like UST.

“In the past few games, the third quarter has been our waterloo. We have to keep the energy until the end,” the third-year guard said.

Chris Newsome and Ryan Buenafe, who scored 13 points each for the Eagles against UP, are also expected to deliver the goods for Ateneo alongside skipper Juami Tingson, and JP Erram among others.

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