In Sotto’s first start, Blue Eaglets swoop into last playoff berth
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jan 28, 2017 05:08 PM
TOWER. Rookie Kai Sotto is slowly but surely making his presence felt for Ateneo.
Kai Sotto started his very first game for Ateneo de Manila High School on Saturday at the San Juan Arena.
And the much-hyped rookie left an immediate impact that bodes well for the Blue Eaglets’ present and future.
The six-foot-nine 14-year-old towered above all to pick off nine points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks as Ateneo made quick work of archrival De La Salle Zobel, 69-53, to snare the fourth and final playoff berth in the UAAP 79 Juniors Basketball Tournament.
Sotto, whose minutes have slowly but surely gone up through the tournament, held down the fort right from tip-off as the Eaglets blitzed the Junior Archers all the way to a 43-29 advantage by halftime. They wouldn’t look back from that point.
Of course, it was SJ Belangel who was at the forefront of the Ateneo attack and wound up with 19 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Dave Ildefonso then chipped in a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double of his own in their team’s seventh triumph in a dozen tries.
Even with the win in the first game of the day, the Eaglets had to wait until afternoon to earn entry into the Final Four.
Nazareth School of National University made their wait worth it as it rallied by University of Sto. Tomas for a 72-59 decision.
The defending champions trailed by six after two quarters until John Lloyd Clemente got going and sparked a 24-point third quarter that took away the advantage in their favor. In the final frame, they just kept on rolling just as the Tiger Cubs ran out of gas.
The versatile forward finished with 19 points, all but five coming in the second half, to lift the Bullpups onto a 10-2 standing. They remain a game ahead for the second-seed and a game back for the first-seed.
The loss proved to be the death knell for UST’s playoff hopes. Now standing at 4-8, they will not be able to catch up with Ateneo.
Meanwhile, the first-seed still belongs to Adamson High School after it dominated University of the East, 93-68.
Encho Serrano poured in 17 points while EJ Agbong pounded in 14 points and 15 rebounds as the Baby Falcons improved to 11-1. With one more win, they will secure a twice-to-beat advantage.
Still in the running for that incentive is Far Eastern University-Diliman which bounced back big-time via a 99-75 triumph over University of the Philippines Integrated School.
Xyrus Torres scored 17 points and had five other teammates in double-digits in the Baby Tamaraws’ ninth win in 12 games.
Their respective losses dropped the Junior Archers to 3-9, the Junior Maroons to 3-9, and the Junior Warriors to 1-11.
ATENEO 69 – Belangel 19, Ildefonso 15, Credo 13, Sotto 9, Escalona 5, Manuel 4, Berjay 2, Deonio 2, Gatmaytan 0, Flores 0, Espino 0, Angeles 0, Laud 0, Afable
DLSZ 53 – Diaz 13, Sobrevega 11, Natividad 6, Santos 5, Cortez 4, Vista 3, Romero 2, Cosejo 2, Carlos 2, Vesagas 2, Laurente 2, Mariano 1, Terrado 0, Chavez 0, Damiles 0, Umali 0
QUARTER SCORES: 17-11, 43-29, 55-40, 69-53
NU 72 – Clemente 19, Amsali 12, Penano 12, Manalang 11, Sarip 8, Callejo 6, Malonzo 2, Fortea 2, Atienza 0, Coyoca 0, Mosqueda 0, Peralta 0, Tolentino 0
UST 59 – Cansino 21, Ratuiste 9, Narvasa 7, Dela Cruz 7, Fornillos 5, Balingit 5, Ballada 3, Baquial 2, Morales 0, Ian 0, Juan 0, Vince 0
QUARTER SCORES: 17-22, 26-32, 50-48, 72-59
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