HOME SWEEP HOME: Belangel shoots Ateneo over NU and straight onto Finals

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Feb 11, 2018 05:11 PM
Belangel shoots Ateneo over NU and straight onto Finals
SJ Belangel was unstoppable when it mattered most

STANDINGS
Ateneo 14-0
NU 11-3
FEU-Diliman 8-6
UST 7-7
Adamson 7-7
DLSZ 4-10
UPIS 3-11
UE 2-12

Ateneo de Manila High School had lost the lead and the momentum to a Nazareth School of National University side determined to deal it its first defeat in the UAAP 80 Juniors Basketball Tournament.

In the end, however, there was SJ Belangel whose heads-up play late in the game appeared to be saying, “Not today, not Sunday. Not here, not in the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City.”

Belangel poured in 16 of his 31 points in the final frame as the Blue Eaglets overcame the tough test put up by the Bullpups for a 78-68 decision that completes for them a clean sweep of the elimination round.

The graduating guard also added seven rebounds, three assists, and one steal to show his team the way to an outright berth in the Finals. “SJ carried us today,” head coach Joe Silva said post-game.

Dave Ildefonso added 16 points, most coming in the first half where the kids from Katipunan were in complete control.

Of course, NU wasn’t going away that easy and went to their tried and tested formula of bully basketball.

Playing stout defense and strong offense, they erased what was once a 14-point deficit and erected a 60-55 lead inside the last five minutes.

It was at that point that Belangel took over, scoring eight points in a 10-5 run to tie the tally at 65.

Michael Malonzo’s putback plus free throw again put the Bullpups ahead by three before Ateneo’s court general buried a big-time triple, stole the ball in the ensuing possession, and completed a fastbreak layup to grant his team a 70-68 lead.

From then on, the Blue Eaglets’ defense stood tall as Belangel shut the door on NU once and for all with another triple over the outstretched arms of Paul Manalang.

His heroic effort, coupled with contributions from Ildefonso, Jason Credo, and Kai Sotto, was enough to overcome an error-filled day for them with a total of 31 turnovers.

With the win, however, they get extra time to work on it as they will now wait in the Finals while NU, Far Eastern University-Diliman and either University of Sto. Tomas or Adamson High School battle themselves.

Rest assured that when Ateneo takes the floor again, they will be more prepared than ever before. “Our mission is not yet done. We still have work to do,” Silva said.

Migs Oczon paced the Bullpups with a season-best 17 points.

Scoreless in the last two minutes, however, they will have to go through stepladder playoffs if they want another shot at the Blue Eaglets.

UST and Adamson fight over the fourth-seed on Wednesday at the Blue Eagle Gym. The winner there will then face off with FEU-Diliman on Saturday still at the Katipunan venue.

The winner from there will move on to a matchup with twice-to-beat NU.

BOX SCORES

ATENEO 78 – Belangel 31, Ildefonso 16, Credo 11, Sotto 10, Manuel 8, Angeles 2, Escalona 0, Chiu 0, David 0

NU 68 – Oczon 17, Amsali 13, Fortea 9, Gonzales 7, Malonzo 7, Javillonar 5, Minerva 5, Manalang 3, Coyoca 2, Pangilinan 0, Pradella 0

QUARTER SCORES: 18-14, 40-30, 55-50, 78-68

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