Ateneo bounces back big, trumps National UBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines—Reigning titlist Ateneo bounced back big time and gave National University a jolt of reality with an 89-65 shellacking Sunday in the 75th UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Blue Eagles, after dropping a 70-71 stunner against University of Santo Tomas last Thursday, showed no signs of committing the same mistakes by breaking the game wide open early and never letting their guard down.
“We told the players that our offense may be up and down, but the defense must be consistent,” said head coach Norman Black, who learned a lot from his squad’s last loss.
Ateneo stretched its winning streak over NU, which is expected to give the Blue Eagles a run for their money this season after a great pre-season, to nine games dating back to 2007.
Nico Salva was simply on point in scoring 21 points, knocking down a long two, helping the Blue Eagles amass a massive 27-point edge as they were well on their way to their second victory.
Ateneo’s bigs Greg Slaughter and Justin Chua also did their work as they combined for 26 points while staying out of early foul trouble.
Kiefer Ravena led Ateneo’s offense in the open court, which has been his squad’s bread and butter, and got the better of Bulldogs’ star Ray Parks Jr. with 17 points and six boards.
Despite building an early double-digit lead, the Blue Eagles were wary of Parks’ explosiveness in the offense and NU’s capability to claw back—like what UST pulled off.
But Parks carried the bulk of the load for NU, which did not look like its dominant self, and fouled out of the game with a game-best 22 points while Emmanuel Mbe struggled with just 12.
The Bulldogs, who opened up the season with a rout of University of the East, reeled to their first loss, which makes FEU the lone undefeated squad thus far.