Ateneo dominates game one of UAAP finals; a win away from ‘four-peat’
MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo ironed out the kinks in the second half to hammer out a convincing 82-64 win over Far Eastern University and moved to within a win of completing a “four-peat” Saturday in the 74th UAAP men’s basketball finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles, who drew a perfect game from forward Nico Salva, grabbed the Tamaraws by their horns in the last two quarters.
“We just tried to make the adjustments in the second half to at least defend their pick and rolls,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black.
“Our defense has really been the strength of our team, it’s been like that for the last four years,” added Black, whose squad was as stellar at the offensive end, shooting 60% percent from the field.
Salva came through with a game-high 24 points built on an eight-of-eight shooting from the field while also going eight-of-eight from the stripe.
“I really decided to go to Nico and he delivered,” said Black.
Anchored by its suffocating defense, Ateneo held FEU’s top gunner RR Garcia to just six points on a forgetful three-of-15 shooting from the field, including 0-of-7 from three.
Top rookie Kiefer Ravena also shone for the Eagles as he collected 17 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Seven-foot center Greg Slaughter chipped in with 12 points and eight boards.
Adding insult to injury, Garcia wasn’t even able to go to the free-throw line in 35 minutes of action.
The Tamaraws failed to sustain their strong start and were visibly rattled as the game went on.
“Our first two quarters were good but the last two we just didn’t defend and we didn’t share the ball,” said FEU coach Bert Flores.
Terrence Romeo paced the Tamaraws with 23 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Russel Escoto added 12 points, six boards, two assists and a block.
Despite absorbing an 18-point loss, Flores remained upbeat about their chances coming into game two on Tuesday.
“We still have game two and we’ll try to bounce back. I’m positive about our chances,” Flores said.