Champion Ateneo de Manila High School and runner-up Nazareth School of National University head into their first matchup in the UAAP 81 Juniors Basketball Tournament coming from opposite directions.
The Bullpups will be on the hunt for a bounce back win while the Blue Eaglets will be targeting greater heights following their separate decisions on Wednesday at the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City.
NU was at the wrong end of a statement win by Adamson High School, 59-62.
Joem Sabandal posted a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double for the Baby Falcons, including the last two points in their fourth win in six games. “Ever since, ang goal naman namin was to improve dun sa last year na muntik na kami mag-Final Four with a team na majority, rookies,” a beaming head coach Mike Fermin said post-game.
However, it was effort and energy that allowed them to overcome going 2-of-6 from the line in the last two minutes before, ultimately, overthrowing the previously unbeaten Bullpups.
After Terrence Fortea’s three pulled NU to within 59-60 inside the last three minutes, the Adamson defense stood strong and didn’t allow any more makes until the final buzzer.
In particular, Adam Manlapaz made two game-changing plays – one block to reject Fortea’s layup that would have given the lead to the Bullpups and another block to deny Gerry Abadiano’s attempt that would have tied the tally.
All the Baby Falcons would score from there were two splits from the stripe by Sabandal, but those, coupled with defense would be more than enough for their biggest win in the Mike Fermin era. “Big game, big win talaga para sa amin,” the coach said.
Manlapaz wound up with his own double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds to go along with four blocks.
Now at 4-2, they are tied with Far Eastern University-Diliman for the third and fourth spots.
At the same time, Adamson put the first blemish on the once immaculate record of NU which falls to 5-1.
Gerry Abadiano topped the scoring column for them with 17 points. They will have improve on their 25-of-82 shooting from the field, however, if they are to challenge the defending champion.
That defending champion Ateneo just routed University of the East, 84-62.
Kai Sotto followed up his career game with 25 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in this one.
Now at 5-1, the Blue Eaglets are on even ground with the Bullpups heading into their showdown on Saturday still at the same venue.
For the still winless Junior Warriors, Mike Flores topped the scoring column with 17 points.
ADAMSON 62 – Sabandal 13, Doria Ad 13, Manlapaz 11, Doria An 7, Hanapi 7, Capulong 6, Barcelona 4, Prodigo 2, Engbino 0, Padilla 0, Santos 0
NU 59 – Abadiano 17, Fortea 11, Torres 10, Quiambao 6, Gonzales 5, Felicilda 2, Alarcon 2, Dayrit 2, Javillonar 2, Enriquez 2, Mailim 0, Abiera 0
QUARTER SCORES: 16-12, 27-27, 46-45, 62-59
ATENEO 84 – Sotto 25, Fetalvero 11, Diaz 10, Coo 10, Espinosa 7, Salandanan 6, Chiu 4, Ladimo 4, Pangilinan 3, David 2, Jaymalin 2, De Ayre 0, Lechoncito 0, Corral 0, Narciso 0
UE 62 – Flores 17, Manaug 14, Dichoso 11, Agbas 8, Alinsoring 7, Dy Tioco 2, Almacen 2, Sullano 1, Villarta 0, Tajonera 0, Gatdula 0, Escamilla 0, Lima 0
QUARTER SCORES: 19-15, 34-34, 60-46, 84-62
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