Ateneo takes fight out of UP to take Game 1 of UAAP Finals
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Dec 01, 2018 06:17 PM
Thirdy Ravena started strong, Matt Nieto finished fine, and Ateneo proved that their championship experience is their biggest advantage against upstart UP
The University of the Philippines was coming at the reigning and defending king in the UAAP 81 Men’s Basketball Tournament – and Thirdy Ravena and Matt Nieto weren’t having it.
Ravena set the tone, Nieto served up his best game of the season, and Ateneo de Manila University sent a statement to the upstart Fighting Maroons via a convincing 88-79 victory on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ravena stuffed the stat sheet with an almost triple-double while also filling up the highlight reel as the Blue Eagles reminded everybody that the crown still belongs to them – and they plan to keep it on their heads all the way to a second straight championship.
The fourth-year forward took charge from the get-go, dropping 13 of his 21 points in the first half and coupled that with 10 rebounds, nine assists, two steals, and two blocks.
Nieto was instrumental as well with a career-high 27 points on top of three steals in the defending champions’ win in Game 1 of the best-of-three series – a win that turned down the hype on the Fighting Maroons who have been the talk of the town after barging back into the Finals after 32 years.
With their opponents pulling to within three points at the midway mark of the final frame, it was the court general who claimed control with four points in a 9-0 run that re-increased his side’s lead to 84-72 inside the last three minutes.
UP would not be able to mount any uprising the rest of the way.
Ateneo will go all-out to do all of this once more in Game 2 on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Jun Manzo topped the scoring column for the Fighting Maroons with 19 points while Gomez de Liano brothers Juan and Javi also added 17 and 11 markers, respectively.
Season MVP Bright Ahkuetie only had 10 points and five rebounds as he had to power through an apparent left knee injury he incurred during a collision with Blue Eagle Ange Kouame.
ATENEO 88 – Nieto Ma. 27, Ravena 21, Kouame 7, Verano 6, Tio 6, Mamuyac 5, Asistio 4, Nieto Mi. 4, Wong 3, Mendoza 3, Go 2, Navarro 0.
UP 79 – Manzo 19, Gomez de Liaño Ju. 17, Gomez de Liaño Ja. 11, Akhuetie 10, Dario 9, Desiderio 5, Tungcab 3, Vito 3, Prado 2, Murrell 0, Jaboneta 0, Gozum 0.
QUARTER SCORES: 26-18, 39-38, 63-61, 88-79
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