Ateneo de Manila University stretched its unbeaten start to eight games after repeating over Adamson University, 71-59, in Season 80 University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles banked on their stifling defense in the second half to pull away from a tight contest and snap the Falcons’ four-game winning streak.
“It was a defensive game. Adamson is also a very good defensive team. Our 23 points in the third quarter was pivotal. I’m happy the players responded. We wanted to make sure our defense won’t let us down,” said Ateneo games head coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
Thirdy Ravena was the lone Blue Eagle in double figures with 15 points but it was their defense that stopped the streaking Adamson squad, which dropped to 5-3.
Papi Sarr matched Ravena’s output but Adamson’s perimeter game went south, hitting 23-of-66 including a 1-of-18 shooting from the three-point area.
Ateneo also dominated the Falcons in the first round, 85-65, with Sarr sitting out that match due to an injury.
In the first game, University of the East (UE) did not need another explosive scoring game from Alvin Pasaol in securing its second straight win.
With Pasaol hounded by foul trouble, the second unit delivered big for the Red Warriors and pulled off a stunning 90-77 victory over the listless National University (NU).
Mark Olayon, Wilson Bartolome and Nick Abanto carried the scoring cudgels for UE when Pasaol, who averaged 40.5 points in the last two games, was whistled for his fourth foul at 4:46 mark of the third period.
Pasaol did not return after scoring 11 points in 19 minutes and head coach Derrick Pumaren had no reason to field him in anew as the Red Warriors played one cohesive unit in the second half denying the Bulldogs’ all attempts to stage a comeback.
“We walked about the whole week if we want to make a run, we have to start the second round on a winning note. It gets tighter and tighter as other teams make their moves,” said Pumaren, whose wards improved to 2-6.
“Hats off to the second group. When Alvin needed rest, we were able to hold our fort. We knew NU will gonna make a comeback and I’m proud with the second group. We made the clutch baskets and stops in the end,” he added.
Olayon led UE’s balanced scoring with 17 points to go along with six rebounds and eight assists while Bartolome and Abanto contributed 14 and 13 markers, respectively.
Mark Maloles and JC Cullar also played big at the backcourt with the two combining for 19 points and provided steadiness when the Bulldogs tried to mount a rally.
UE was holding a 52-48 lead when Pasaol was called for his fourth foul midway in the third canto, as Olayon and Bartolome allowed the Red Warriors to stay in front and hold a 62-59 lead entering the fourth.
Without Pasaol and starting guard Philip Manalang, Pumaren went to the backcourt tandem of Cullar and Maloles and the gamble paid off as UE erected a 79-67 spread on Olayon’s putback with 2:56 remaining.
The Bulldogs sliced the lead to 72-81 but Bartolome and Olayon joined forces anew and finished the game with a 9-5 exchange to hand NU its fifth loss in eight games.
Issa Gaye led the Bulldogs with 20 points and 13 rebounds while Jayjay Alejandro was the only other NU player in double figures with 16.
The smaller Red Warriors outrebounded the Bulldogs, 54-52, and had less turnovers, 12-21, in the game.
“If we want to get the win, we have to be consistent. And we really played well in the last two games,” said Pumaren, whose wards downed University of Santo Tomas, 96-91, at the end of the first round to snap a six-game losing streak.
UE 90 – Olayon 17, Bartolome 14, Maloles 13, Abanto 13, Pasaol 11, Manalang 7, Cullar 6, Derige 3, Varilla 2, Acuno 2, Conner 2
NU 77 – Gaye 20, Alejandro 16, Bartlett 8, Salem 7, Mosqueda 7, Yu 5, Joson 4, Lastimosa 4, Morido 3, Aquino 3, Diputado 0, Rangel 0, Tibayan 0, Abatayo 0, Cauilan 0
QUARTER SCORES: 21-15, 45-36, 62-59, 90-77
ATENEO 71 – Ravena 15, Tolentino 8, Go 8, Ikeh 7, Black 7, Nieto Mi 6, Asistio 4, Verano 3, Tio 3, Mendoza 3, Andrade 3, Nieto Ma 2, Porter 2, Mamuyac 0, Malillin 0, White 0
ADAMSON 59 – Sarr 15, Pingoy 9, Ahanmisi 6, Hill 6, Espeleta 5, Mustre 5, Manganti 4, Camacho 2, Lojera 2, Ochea 2, Zaldivar 2, Manalang 1, Bernardo 0, Chua 0, Paranada 0
QUARTER SCORES: 16-10, 31-24, 54-41, 71-59