Ateneo de Manila High School has done in the UAAP 81 Juniors Basketball Tournament exactly what their kuyas did to the big brothers of the University of the Philippines Integrated School.
Kai Sotto towered above all for a career-high 36 points and then towed the Blue Eaglets past the outmatched Junior Maroons, 77-60, on Saturday at the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City.
The 7-foot-1, 16-year-old pounded career-best output was as efficient as they come as he only made good on 14-of-17 shots from the field while also converting all but two of 10 charities. “With Kai, basketball is easy. Sa ngayon, ang hinahanap na namin sa kanya is continuous improvement,” first-year head coach Reggie Varilla said post-game.
Just for good measure, he also added 11 points, three blocks, and three steals to lift the defending champions to back-to-back wins and fourth overall in five games. “Nakakatawa na ang napansin ko is yung turnovers niya kesa points, but he played really well,” coach Reggie said while chuckling, talking about the nine turnovers his prized prospect also had.
It was Sotto who scored seven unanswered points to punctuate a blistering 22-5 beginning for his side.
The Junior Maroons could only come as close as nine in the final frame before the third-year center fired four points in a row to quell their uprising.
Sotto’s efforts were more than enough to keep Ateneo the victors in the Battle of Katipunan. In the recently concluded UAAP Seniors tournament, the Blue Eagles blanked UP in the elimination round and then swept them again in the Finals.
Right beside him was young point guard Ian Espinosa who had eight points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
For UPIS, Polo Labao topped the scoring column with 22 points while Allen Torres chipped in a 12-point, 20-rebound double-double. Still, they remain winless after five games.
Meanwhile, Far Eastern University-Diliman, the only team to have downed the Blue Eaglets thus far, was at the wrong end of an upset by De La Salle Zobel, 62-67.
Ivan Cudiamat busted out from nowhere for a career-high 23 points built on five triples to shoot the Junior Archers to a 3-2 standing.
Just as impressive was their defense which suffocated the Baby Tamaraws into missing 56 of their 82 attempts from the field.
With that, RJ Abarrientos only scored 11 points in 27 percent shooting to see FEU-Diliman drop to 3-2.
DLSZ 67 – Cudiamat 23, Jomalesa 9, Subido 9, Macasaet 9, Pingol 7, Sevilla 3, Unisa 3, Milan 2, Buncayo 2, Villarin O, Marana 0
FEU-DILIMAN 62 – Alforque 11, Abarrientos 11, Tolentino 8, Sajonia 8, Anonuevo 7, Torres 7, Ona 5, Bautista 5, Bagunu 0, Sicat 0, Armendez 0, Balaga 0, Labago 0
QUARTER SCORES: 19-14, 30-30, 53-49, 67-62
ATENEO 77 – Sotto 36, Espinosa 8, Jaymalin 6, Fetalvero 6, Coo 6, David 4, Diaz 4, Chiu 4, Corral 3, Salandanan 0, Lechoncito 0, Pangilinan 0, Ladimo 0, Narciso 0.
UPIS 60 – Labao 22, Torres 12, Tuazon 12, Estrera 8, Vergiere 6, Gomez de Liano 0, Cordero 0.
QUARTER SCORES: 22-9, 42-26, 59-46, 77-60.
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