UAAP: Ravena downplays La Salle’s physicality, Kib Montalbo’s mind games

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Thirdy Ravena acknowledged that the Blue Eagles turned complacent after a flying start that saw them go up by as many as 21 points. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines—Ateneo star Thirdy Ravena exited the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday with a busted lip, scratches around his neck and his arms, and what appeared to be the beginnings of a bruise around his right eye.

He and the rest of the Blue Eagles also exited with a stinging loss after they squandered a 21-point advantage and bowed to archrival De La Salle University, 92-83, in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 80 finals.

What seemed like a won game turned into an absolute meltdown for the Blue Eagles as they were unable to handle the Green Archers’ defense in the second half of the game. As La Salle ramped up the intensity, Ateneo appeared to wilt.

Ravena acknowledged that his team got complacent after building such a huge advantage.

“I guess, it’s a real lesson for us na it’s not over,” he said. “We had a 20-point lead, but we got complacent in the second half, lalo na noong humahabol sila.”

“I feel like we weren’t tough enough to take that situation, but you know, that happens. We’re going to prepare everything coming Game 3,” he added.

Ateneo’s spiral began late in the second quarter, when the Blue Eagles gave up a Ben Mbala dunk that touched off a 10-0 run. To make matters worse, Ravena appeared to get tangled up with La Salle captain Kib Montalbo in the final five seconds of the quarter, preventing the Blue Eagles from even running a play.

“Oh, he was just trying to get in our heads, like what they did to Jerrick (Ahanmisi) against Adamson,” Ravena said in an attempt to shrug off the incident, which saw him try to bump Montalbo who was defending the inbound pass.

“We’re prepared for that,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter.”

After that, however, it was clear that momentum was on the side of the Green Archers. They went on to outscore Ateneo 26-8 in the pivotal third period and, try as they might, the Blue Eagles could not come back in the fourth.

Ravena, who was named to the Mythical Five ahead of the contest, was among those who tried to take matters into his own hands by repeatedly driving to the rim and trying to finish, but he was often stymied by the physical defense of Mbala.

His teammates, particularly Matt Nieto and Aaron Black, also tried to test Mbala’s defense and looked to fish for fouls, but even as they crashed to the floor, no whistle was blown. Ravena said this should not be an issue.

“I really don’t care if the game is physical,” said Ravena. “I’ll just do my thing. Kasama sa laro ‘yan. Minsan tinatawag nila, minsan hindi.”

“But you have to be prepared na it’s going to be a physical game,” he stressed. “It’s not gonna change in Game 3, so you just have to suck that up.”

He also made light of the scratches that littered his face and arms.

“I don’t really count them. It’s part of the game,” he said. “I really don’t care if I get wounded or not.”

At the end of the day, Ravena said Ateneo cannot dwell on the physicality of the game, or the wounds that they might sustain while battling with the Green Archers. Instead, the Blue Eagles have to be more mindful of their defense, particularly as they will be in a do-or-die situation on Sunday.

“We just have to stay laser-focused on the third game,” he said. “We have to be aware that (a La Salle run) is going to happen. We have to be prepared for that situation, when it comes again.”

“We have to play much tougher than we played (today),” Ravena also said. “We had a good start, but we can’t be complacent.”

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)



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