Eaglets leave no doubt in taking title over Bullpups

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Mar 02, 2018 06:04 PM
Eaglets leave no doubt in taking title over Bullpups
Ateneo mightily rebounded from their first loss in the season to take care of business against NU and take the title in UAAP 80.

Ateneo de Manila High School did not sweep the 80th Season of the UAAP Juniors Basketball Tournament.

Still, the Blue Eaglets were able to dig deep for a well-earned 63-58 win over Nazareth School of National University to claim the championship on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

The kids from Katipunan were denied history three days ago as they suffered their first and only setback in the season. “Like I told the boys, we never thought about the sweep. All we wanted is the championship,” a beaming head coach Joe Silva said.

The determination to redeem themselves and desire to reach their goal was evident from the get-go in this one, however, and mounted an early 20-8 lead.

Of course, the Bullpups weren’t going away that easy and clawed their way back in the contest until Terrence Fortea’s floater, triple, and assist to Rhayyan Amsali put them on top, 54-48, with 4:18 remaining.

“I just told the boys, composure. Yun yung lamang ng NU sa amin kasi alam nila Finals series e,” Silva said. “I just told them to stay composed and we’ll fight back.”

That, they did as SJ Belangel, Kai Sotto, and Joaqui Manuel all got together for a 10-0 run to grant Ateneo a 58-54 lead inside the last two minutes.

Again, the Bullpups tied the tally at 58-all with 37.2 ticks to go before Sotto cleaned up Manuel’s miss to give his team both the lead and the momentum they would never relinquish.

Belangel’s steady hands at the line coupled with standout defense then finished it all off for the Blue Eaglets.

Showing utmost determination and desire, Ateneo passed with flying colors the toughest test it has ever faced.

And with that, they won their first championship in three years.

Obviously, Sotto was a big part of that with 19 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks in this one.

Yet again, however, it was Belangel who led the way for the kids from Katipunan all throughout and wound up with 16 points and eight assists.

Fortea paced NU with 14 points, five rebounds, and three assists.

Coming oh so close to toppling the once undefeated Blue Eaglets, they will undoubtedly be as hungry as ever next season.

BOX SCORES

ATENEO 63 – Sotto 19, Belangel 16, Ildefonso 13, Credo 4, Manuel 4, Chiu 4, David 3, Escalona 0, Jaymalin 0, Santos 0

NU 58 – Fortea 14, Minerva 13, Manalang 8, Oczon 7, Amsali 6, Javillonar 5, Pangilinan 3, Malonzo 2, Coyoca 0

QUARTER SCORESL 15-6, 28-23, 44-43, 63-58

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