Ateneo de Manila University denied University of Santo Tomas (UST) of an outright entry in the Final Four via a thrilling 80-74 win on Wednesday in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles improved to 6-4 to gain the solo third while the Growling Tigers suffered their second loss to fall in the No. 2 spot with an 8-2 mark, leaving idle Far Eastern University on top with 8-1.
Sophomore Arvin Tolentino delivered 20 points on an impressive 7-of-10 field goal shooting for Ateneo with veterans Von Pessumal and reigning Most Valuable Player Kiefer Ravena backing him up with 16 and 11, respectively.
The win, according to Ateneo head coach Bo Perasol, was dedicated to John Apacible, who was suspended over drunk driving incident.
“We played this game for him. We want to support him,” said Perasol.
“[Right now, our focus will be on NU]. We’ll be preparing for them.”
Ed Daquioag topscored for UST with 19 points.
Earlier, defending champion National University (NU) survived Adamson University in overtime, 85-79, to keep its Final Four hopes alive.
The Bulldogs notched their fourth win in 10 games while the Soaring Falcons got booted out of the Final Four race as they absorbed their ninth setback against lone victory.
“You have to give credit to Adamson. They played with a nothing to lose attitude, they were due for the win. [But] we do what we have to do and take care of our business. Prepare well, believe in the system and play together,” said NU head coach Eric Altamirano.
“I hope that we can pick up from here,” he added after snapping their three-game losing skid.
Rodolfo Alejandro led NU with career-high 22 points including a crucial three-point play in the extra period while Alfred Aroga finished with a double-double 17 points and 11 rebounds on top of season-high five blocks.
“It was a team effort. Everyone contributed,” Alejandro said.
Veteran Gelo Alolino chipped in 17 points, six boards and 10 assists as well as Nico Javelona and Jeoffrey Javillonar, who combined for 17 points.
Cameroonian Pape Sarr had a monster 32-point, 17-rebound showing for Adamson.
The Bulldogs were actually outrebounded by the Soaring Falcons, 36-55, but the reigning titlists proved to be the hungrier squad as they converted 25 points off Adamson’s turnovers.
They also nailed 22 fastbreak and 11 second chance points in the game that saw six deadlocks and eight lead changes.