MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo neutralized the most imposing frontcourt in the league for its first win, tripping Adamson, 71-59, Sunday in the UAAP season 76 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Juami Tiongson and JP Erram proved to be the lethal inside-out combination for the defending champions, who staved off an alarming 0-4 start by beating the Falcons in rebounding, 49-37.
“This is an answered prayers for us,” said head coach Bo Perasol, who also got his maiden win with Ateneo.
“I emphasized in the last 4-5 days of practice that we needed to bridge the gap between the best [Adamson] and the worst rebounding team [us],” he added.
Erram had eight of his 12 points in the latter part of the third where Ateneo first led by double-digits, 47-57, as he pounced on the struggles of the Falcons’ Cameroonian center Ingrid Sewa.
Sewa hardly seemed menacing against the Blue Eagles’ bigs, finishing with just four points as he missed all of his seven freethrow attempts.
The towering Erram, who spent most of pre-season trying to recover from a knee injury, even outrebounded Sewa, 12-10.
“At this point, we’re down 0-3, you don’t have to think about the injury. Just give it your best. Pag dating naman sa game, maganda na ilalaro mo pag di mo inisip yon,” said Erram.
Tiongson, meanwhile, frustrated the Falcons further with his on-point triples from top-of-the-key and timely drives, which kept the Blue Eagles in a safe distance late in the last six minutes.
The starting guard for the Blue Eagles wound up with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, along with eight rebounds.
Ryan Buenafe also came up big to tow Ateneo to the win column as he flirted with a triple-double with 11 points, 12 rebounds and nine dimes.
While everything worked towards the Blue Eagles’ way, as they also got star Kiefer Ravena back from injury — it was a stark contrast for the Falcons, who failed to break Ateneo anew.
Lanky forward Rodney Brondial, back up to Sewa, was limited to just eight points and six rebounds, while Jericho Cruz and Roider Cabrera went for a combined 6-of-23 from downtown.
Overall, the usual hotshooting Adamson — which dropped to 2-2 — shot 8-of-32 from beyond the arc.
The Falcons trimmed the lead to 42-44 with 3:54 in the third, on a basket by Cruz but the absence of Sewa gave the Blue Eagles a glaring chance to pull away.
Originally posted at 6:35 pm | Sunday, July 14, 2013