Ateneo holds off NU to keep perfect slate
Ateneo kept its immaculate card in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament after turning back a strong stand from National U, 85-72, Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Blue Eagles hiked their unbeaten run 9-0 while the Bulldogs slid 3-6 and stay unmoved at sixth place.
After taking a slim two-point lead at the end of the third, 67-65, the Blue Eagles ramped it up in the fourth going on a 15-5 run with Matt Nieto capping it off with a booming triple 2:22 left that gave Ateneo an 82-70 lead.
Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga said it was NU’s zone defense that forced them to create shots from distance, and it was a challenge they had to respond to.
“NU played hard, they came up with a game plan, they switched defenses on us and they zoned us a lot,” said Arespacochaga. “We kind of expected and it was just a matter of telling our players to just read the defense.”
Ateneo used a strong three-point shooting to slowly distance itself from the Bulldogs with the Blue Eagles converting 11 of their 32 attempts from deep while holding NU to just three three-pointers.
“We hit 34 percent from three-point range so I think we did a good job of not getting rattled by their defense.”
Thirdy Ravena led the Blue Eagles with 15 points, eight boards, and two steals while Jolo Mendoza and Matt Nieto added 10 points apiece.
J-Jay Alejandro put up a game-high 22 points to go along seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals to lead NU while Issa Gaye had eight points and 14 boards.
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