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Blue Eagles fend off Maroons, close in on UAAP elims sweep

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Ateneo moved a win away from an elimination round sweep after holding off University of the Philippines, 96-82, in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament Wednesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The No. 1 Blue Eagles, who will shoot for a 14-0 record against defending champion De La Salle on Sunday, went on a 17-3 run in the final four minutes and 11 seconds to break away from a 79-deadlock.

“We showed a lot of character in the end. It was a tough game, we were challenged from the start and I’m happy that the players stepped up to the challenge,” said Ateneo coach Sandy Arespacochaga.

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Matt Nieto scored a team-high 19 points, including seven inside the last three minutes, while Isaac Go and Gian Mamuyac added 13 points each for Ateneo, which out-rebounded UP, 49-34.

Thirdy Ravena struggled from the field but did a little bit of everything to still finish with 10 points, nine rebounds, six assists, four steals and a block.

UP mounted an 11-0 blast to tie the game at 79 with all the momentum on its side but a controversial call near the four-minute mark turned the tide.

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The referees missed what should’ve been an 8-second violation on Ateneo guard Jolo Mendoza, who fell just before crossing center court. Instead, a foul was called on UP playmaker Jun Manzo.

Juan Gomez de Liaño topscored with 21 points while Paul Desiderio had 16 but went 6-of-18 from the field.

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