9-0 Ateneo keeps rising while also keeping NU reeling
STANDARD-BEARERS. Ateneo is now assured of at least a playoff for a Final Four berth.
For the first time in the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Ateneo de Manila University was behind at halftime of its matchup with National University.
Still, the Blue Eagles were able to dig deep both into their character and into their lineup to tighten the leash around National University, 85-72, on Wednesday at the MOA Arena.
Dominant through the tournament, the league-leaders remain undefeated through nine games.
Unlike the previous games, however, Ateneo had to come from behind as it trailed by three at the half and still by two late in the third. “NU played hard and we didn’t match their energy. Credit goes to our players who did the necessary adjustments,” coach Sandy Arespacochaga said.
From that 61-63 deficit, four different players joined forces in a scintillating 15-3 surge that put the Blue Eagles on top, 76-66, with six minutes remaining.
They would not be threatened the rest of the way as J-Jay Alejandro got shackled by Gian Mamuyac and Thirdy Ravena.
The King Bulldog had 16 points in 5-of-11 shooting in the first two quarters, but with Mamuyac and then Ravena all over him, only had six points in 2-of-9 shooting in the second half. “Thirdy and Gian did a great job on him. You cannot hold him to zero points so six points in the second half was good for us,” Arespacochaga said.
At the other end, Ravena fronted the offensive with 15 points on top of eight rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks while Mamuyac contributed eight markers and four dimes.
Matt Nieto and Jolo Mendoza also added 10 points apiece to help Ateneo assure itself of at least a playoff for a Final Four berth.
For NU, Alejandro was the lone bright spot also with seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Enzo Joson was the only other player in double-digits for them with 11 points.
With Issa Gaye and Matt Salem combining for only 15 points in 6-of-20 shooting to go along with three turnovers, however, they fell for the fifth time in the last six games. Now at 3-6, they need to start showing some sense of urgency in the tournament.
ATENEO 85 – Ravena 15, Nieto Ma 10, Mendoza 10, Ikeh 8, Asistio 8, Mamuyac 8, Go 6, Nieto Mi 5, Tio 5, Verano 4, Tolentino 3, Black 3, White 0
NU 72 – Alejandro 22, Joson 11, Gaye 8, Salem 7, Mosqueda 5, Bartlett 4, Rangel 4, Morido 4, Yu 3, Diputado 2, Cauilan 2, Tibayan 0
QUARTER SCORES: 28-22, 45-48, 67-65, 85-72
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