MANILA, Philippines — University of the Philippines was hell bent on snapping a 3-game skid against Ateneo de Manila University Wednesday, September 30 but it was close to impossible with only 7 Fighting Maroons on the scoreboard and leading scorer Jett Manuel checked by UAAP MVP Kiefer Ravena.
Ravena and the Blue Eagles shackled Manuel all game long as the fourth year shooting guard went scoreless on 0-of-7 shooting from the field in 18.5 minutes on the floor.
"Jett is a very capable scorer so coming into the game I was really watching his highlights — how he's gonna attack, how he's gonna make his baskets," Ravena said following Ateneo's 56-43 win over UP in the men's basketball tournament of UAAP Season 78.
"I made it a conscious effort together with the other guys who will be matched up with Jett to focus on Jett himself even if we switch because we don't want a scorer to get his groove."
Manuel led the Maroons in scoring with an average of 12.4 points in 21.7 minutes a game before Wednesday. He also normed 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Against Ateneo Manuel's only statistic was 3 rebounds.
Despite Manuel being a primary offensive option for the Maroons, Eagles head coach Bo Perasol bared there was no defensive game plan drawn up specifically for Manuel.
But team captain Ravena took it upon himself to study Manuel's tendencies and make sure the Diliman cager would not have room to breathe.
"It was huge that he was not part of the run they made at the start of the fourth quarter," Ravena said of the Maroons run that chopped a 19-point lead to just 12. Ravena finished with a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds as Ateneo improved to a 4-2 record.
The 22-year old UP co-captain was the first one out of the locker room almost immediately after the game.
"He's not gonna dwell on it. I believe in Jett, I know Jett," assured close friend and captain JR Gallarza, who added Manuel didn't look keen on talking to anybody.
"We're really close and I know this is not gonna affect him in ways you guys might think. He'a gonna bounce back from this, no worries about that."
The Maroons, who started the season at 2-0, will finish up the first round against the Adamson Soaring Falcons on Sunday, October 4 and will play to arrest their now 4-game losing slide. — Rappler.com