The full game review of UAAP Season 78 showdown September 16, 2015 Wednesday Ateneo Blue Eagles vs. National University(NU) Bulldogs in double overtime(OT). Eric Altamirano said; NU’s title defense has gotten off to a horrid start, as the Bulldogs lost their first two games to La Salle and University of the East. “We’re not playing the type of defense that we want to,” Altamirano admitted after the Bulldogs bowed to the Red Warriors on Saturday. “Obviously, we tried to win it with offense, but it’s hard to win especially with the way we played today.”
National U’s schedule doesn’t get any easier as they will play the Blue Eagles and the unbeaten University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers this week. Ateneo currently has a 1-1 win-loss record but the Blue Eagles are in high spirits following a huge win over Adamson last weekend.
This is why Altamirano does not think the Bulldogs should be considered favorites against the Blue Eagles, even though they have beaten Ateneo in six straight games dating back to Season 76.
“With the way we played today (Saturday), and the way Ateneo played earlier… if we play the way we played today, I don’t think we can touch Ateneo,” he admitted. “They were very sharp, and we weren’t sharp.”
Asked if they should instead be considered the underdogs, Altamirano said: “With the way we played today and against La Salle, yeah, definitely.”
Final game play score 74-70, ATENEO star Kiefer Ravena was glad to see new teammate Chibueze Ikeh deliver on his word.
“Before the first game, I texted Ikeh on how he can prepare his mind for his first UAAP game,” said Ravena. “He sent me a picture of Dennis Rodman with stats of 0 points and 20 rebounds, and saying that he is going to do it this season.”
The Nigerian player wasn’t much of a reason in the Blue Eagles’ first two games of the UAAP season but finally fulfilled his promise on Wednesday, scoring 14 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in a thrilling 74-70 double-overtime victory over defending champion National University.
From Ikeh’s total rebounds, 14 came from the offensive end in a performance reminiscent of the eccentric former Chicago Bulls rebounding demon.
No one was happier for Ikeh than Ravena, who, after seeing reserve Aaron Black step up for the Blue Eagles in a victory over Adamson over the weekend, saw another player step up in the match against the Bulldogs.
“What a way to show it against the defending champions. Last game, it was Aaron (Black). Now, it’s Ikeh. It’s his time,” Ravena said.
Ateneo coach Bo Perasol said Ikeh’s performance came as validation for a “much-maligned” player.
“Of course, the much-maligned player, Ikeh, he stepped up today and proved that he belongs in the team. He didn’t really need to prove it but he really belongs in the team,” said Perasol.
The soft-spoken Ikeh thanked his teammates for believing in him.
“I have to thank my teammates for believing in me. I have wanted to give up,” said Ikeh, without elaborating. “But they keep on pushing me.”
Ravena expects Ikeh to be central to Ateneo’s title aspiration.