Ateneo turned a highly expected thriller into a rout as the Blue Eagles dumped San Beda, 66-49, Sunday to claim the last title berth in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Working behind a defensive game described as “near perfect” by Ateneo assistant coach Gabby Severino, the Eagles held the Red Lions scoreless in the first eight minutes of the second half and turned a slim 28-26 advantage into a 46-26 blowout near the end of the third period.
Nico Salva pumped in 16 points in the showdown between the champions of the country’s top two varsity leagues and shoved the Eagles into a championship clash with the University of Santo Tomas Tigers, who dropped their last semifinal assignment against the Southwestern University Cobras, 91-93, in overtime.
Cameroonian center Ben Mbala exploded for a tournament record 41 points on top of 16 rebounds to lift the Cebu champions to their first win. Monbert Arong added 17 points, including a clutch triple with 29.7 seconds left that gave the Cobras a 92-89 buffer.
Ateneo and UST topped the round-robin Final Four at 2-1 and will clash in the best-of-three title series at 4 p.m. tomorrow.
The Tigers downed the Eagles, 76-66, at the start of the Final Four last week—their first meeting since the UAAP Finals which Ateneo won to clinch a fifth straight crown.
San Beda and Southwestern will dispute third place in a knockout duel at 2 p.m.
Greg Slaughter collected 11 points, 12 boards and a pair of blocks for the Eagles, who dropped an 18-0 bomb in the third period to pull away for good, 46-26.
The Lions, the three-consecutive NCAA titlists, looked far from sharp as they shot a miserable 28.1 percent from the field.
Juami Tiongson and Tonino Gonzaga combined for 20 points, while Kiefer Ravena chipped in eight points, seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals for the Eagles.
SOUTHWESTERN 93—Mbala 41, Arong 17, Guillena11, Bregondo11, Nalos 6, Aboude 5, Dedace 2, Goloran 0.
UST 91—Teng 20, Mariano 20, Bautista 14, Afuang 10, Pe 8, Fortuna 7, Lo 4, Vigil 3, Garrido 3, Hainga 2, Villar 0, Daquioag 0.
Quarters: 16-22, 40-39, 57-56, 77-77 (reg.), 93-91 (OT)
ATENEO 66—Salva 16, Slaughter 11, Tiongson 11, Gonzaga 9, Ravena 8, Sumalinog 3, Pessumal 2, Capacio 1, Golla 0, Porter 0, Lim 0.
SAN BEDA 49—Amer 15, J. Pascual 10, K. Pascual 8, Caram 8, Dela Rosa 3, Abarcar 3, Koga 2, Bonsubre 0, Moralde 0, Villaruz 0, Mendoza 0, Ludovice 0.
Quarters: 15-12, 28-26, 48-31, 66-49