Ateneo de Manila University blasted University of the Philippines (UP), 74-65, to clinch the third Final Four berth in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ateneo notched its fourth-straight victory to improve to 8-4, pushing UP on the verge of elimination as the Fighting Maroons absorbed their eighth loss against three wins.
Far Eastern University (10-1) and University of Santo Tomas (9-3) earlier bagged first two slots in the Final Four.
Reigning Most Valuable Player Kiefer Ravena delivered 16 points, hauled down three rebounds and dished out five assists while Adrian Wong contributed 14 points for the Blue Eagles, who shot 51.67 percent from the field.
“We started really well. We ended the second half really good, we anticipated their run. Good thing we were able to sustain with the help of the likes of Adrian timely shots of those guys from the bench,” said Ateneo mentor Bo Perasol.
Diego Dario led the Fighting Maroons with 13 points.
Earlier, University of the East (UE) stunned UST, 91-77, to keep its Final Four bid alive with sophomore Clark Derige sizzling with a career-high 26 points and skipper Chris Javier delivering 13 marks.
The Red Warriors cruised to their fourth win in 11 games.
“We have to play with a sense of urgency. We know that we still have a shot at making it to the Final Four, maybe a tie for the last slot. We have to come out and play UST hard. We had a good practice in the last two weeks and we were ready for them,” said UE head coach Derrick Pumaren.
Paul Varilla chipped in 10 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and a steal while Nick Abanto also scored 10 points for UE.
“We played more consistently [this game], we have four guys scoring in double figures. I know we’re playing a tough team, the No. 2 team right now in the league. We just need to play toe-to-toe with them. They made a run, we know that they’ll gonna comeback because UST is a good team but I’m proud of my boys the way they responded,” added Pumaren.
The Red Warriors managed to convert 22 points off the Growling Tigers’ 24 turnovers. They got 13 second chance points against UST’s only four.
UE also dominated the board with 47 rebounds —nine boards better that UST.
Cameroonian Karim Abdul had 25 points while Ed Daquioag and Kevin Ferrer combined for 21 markers for the Growling Tigers.
In the women’s division, UP continued its remarkable rise from a 25-game losing skid as it fended off a late UST fightback to eke out a 61-59 victory.
Reigning champion National University, on the other hand, extended its perfect run to 11 games by overwhelming Ateneo, 70-43, while De La Salle University routed Adamson University, 78-62, for its 10th win in 11 outings.