Ateneo breaks the hearts of UP to rise to 13-0

Ateneo breaks the hearts of UP to rise to 13-0
BIG BATTLE. Ateneo took UP's best shot and still came out on top.

All was going right for the University of the Philippines on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.

And then Ateneo de Manila University finally imposed its will.

With Matt Nieto making shots on offense and altering shots on defense in the final frame, the Blue Eagles came from behind to frustrate the desperate Fighting Maroons, 96-82.

With their latest convincing victory, they kept their slate spotless through 13 games in the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

UP was in command for majority of the matchup until Ateneo rediscovered its winning form. “Certainly a lot of fight in UP in this game. They showed their heart and towards the end of the third and then the fourth, our players showed a lot of character,” coach Sandy Arespacochaga said.

Clinging onto a two-point lead with three minutes remaining, Nieto’s booming triple detonated their 13-1 run to close the contest.

Four different players contributed in that decisive run. “It was a tough game, a challenging game, and we’re happy that the character of our players certainly showed,” Arespacochaga said.

The breaks of the game also favored the Blue Eagles.

With State U going on an 11-0 run to tie the tally at 79-all with 4:19 remaining, Jolo Mendoza was pressured in the backcourt, but was able to get a foul from Jun Manzo.

Replays, however, showed that Mendoza was in the backcourt for nine seconds and could have also been called for an eight-second backcourt violation.

As UP was already in the penalty, Mendoza was instead granted two free throws and made both. From there, both the lead and the momentum stayed with Ateneo.

In the end, Nieto had 19 points on top of four rebounds and two assists while Isaac Go and Gian Mamuyac contributed 13 markers apiece.

That more than made up for the off day of Thirdy Ravena who had 10 points in 2-of-11 shooting on top of nine rebounds, six assists, and four steals.

That also more than made up for State U’s strong shooting which counted 11 makes from deep.

Now, the Blue Eagles turn their attention to a rivalry game with De La Salle University on Sunday. Another win there will complete for them a sweep of the elimination round.

On the other hand, the Fighting Maroons go back to the drawing board as their effort fell short.

With National University’s win against Far Eastern University earlier, a win could have vaulted UP onto a share of fourth.

Now at 5-8, they are tied with the Bulldogs.

To make the playoffs, they will need to beat NU on Saturday and hope that FEU loses to Adamson University on the same day.

BOX SCORES

ATENEO 96 – Nieto Ma 19, Go 13, Mamuyac 13, Ravena 10, Tolentino 10, Nieto Mi 9, Verano 8, Ikeh 6, Asistio 4, Mendoza 4, Tio 0, Black 0

UP 82 – Gomez de Liano Ju 21, Desiderio 16, Manzo 13, Dario 8, Gomez de Liano Ja 7, Lim 4, Ouattara 3, Jaboneta 3, Webb 2, Romero 2, Lao 2, Prado 1, Vito 0, Ricafort 0, Harris 0

QUARTER SCORES: 22-23, 42-48, 63-64, 96-82

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