Huge second half propels Ateneo past National U

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Photo by August dela Cruz

MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo flexed its muscles in the second half with a 70-56 dumping of National University Thursday to stay atop the heap in the 75th UAAP men’s basketball tournament.

The Blue Eagles were even trailing by two points at the end of the first half but blitzed to a double-digit lead to as high as 18 points in the second half at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

With its 10the victory Ateneo is assured of at least a playoff for the twice-to-beat edge.

Greg Slaughter dominated the paint and Ateneo leaned on his eight straight buckets midway the fourth quarter, which opened up a 68-50 lead.

“At half time we made some adjustments that worked well for us and allowed us to pull away,” said head coach Norman Black.

Slaughter finished with 22 points and seven boards while Nico Salva and Kiefer Ravena pitched in 14 markers apiece.

The Blue Eagles also started making their outside shots in the second half — after taking zero attempts in the first half — which helped spread the Bulldogs defense and relieved some of the burden off Slaughter.

It was also a tough night for the Bulldogs’ top offensive threat as Bobby Ray Parks only managed to conjure 11 points on 5-of-17 shooting.

“We didn’t go into the game trying to limit him [Parks],” said Black, though.

Emmanuel Mbe finished 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who lost their grip of solo fourth and allowed La Salle to tie at 7-5.

Jeff Javillionar added 15 points for NU, which didn’t win against Ateneo in their two meetings in the elimination round.

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