Belangel, Mendoza step up as Ateneo makes City Hoops semis

ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 03, 2018 03:59 PM
Belangel, Mendoza step up as Ateneo makes City Hoops semis
Ateneo leaned on a couple of Blue Eaglet stars to take care of business against Letran

Despite not having their seniors, the young Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles were able to display poise under pressure, staving off Colegio de San Juan de Letran, 62-54, last Saturday at the Greenhills West Indoor Court in San Juan.

With the win, the Blue Eagles advance to the knockout semifinals of the 2018 SMART City Hoops 25-Under Summer Classic where they face the University of the Philippines.

Outside of the win, what impressed Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga was how his team embraced the "next man up" mentality they have been preaching.

"Whoever is in, we believe that they are going to do the same job as the veterans. That's the philosophy we want to teach these guys," shared Arepacochaga, sitting in for head coach Tab Baldwin who was hosting a coaching clinic.

Behind the troika of William Navarro, Jawuan White, and Gabe Natividad, the kids from Katipunan were able to buck a slow start to lead by as much as 17 points, 48-31, late in the third frame. The troika finished with nine points each with Navarro, a transferee from San Beda University, grabbing eight boards as well.

After being cold for most of the game, the Knights finally found their groove in the final frame, going on an 11-0 run capped by a rare four-point play by Jerrick Balanza to cut the lead down to just four points, 46-50, with 5:09 left.

Needing someone to lead them, it was former Blue Eaglet leaders SJ Belangel and Jolo Mendoza who stepped up, taking charge in their team's counter-run that put Letran away for good.

"We had some ups and downs. That's what we talked about. It's good that we were able to stop their run and be organized. There was a moment there when we were in a panic. It's good that the players settled down and did their job," remarked Arespacochaga. 

Mendoza finished with nine markers as well, all coming from downtown, while Belangel chipped in six points and three assists.

Larry Muyang was the sole Knight to score in double-figures with 10 points. Expected leaders Bong Quinto and JP Calvo both struggled against Ateneo's defense, finishing with just six points each with Quinto shooting a horrid 2-of-12 from the field.

BOX SCORES

ATENEO 62 - Mendoza 9, Navarro 9, White 9, Natividad 9, Mamuyac 6, Belangel 6, Kouame 5, Wong 4, Mallillin 3, Tio 2, Andrade 0, Black 0, Maagdenberg 0.

LETRAN 54 - Muyang 10, Agbong 8, Fajarito 6, Balanza 6, Calvo 6, Quinto 6, Ambohot 6, Balagasay 2, Mandreza 2, Batiller 2, Yu 0, Celis 0.

QUARTER SCORES: 9-14, 30-31, 50-35, 62-54.

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