Blue Eagles sharpest in Game 1
MANILA—As Ateneo tries to wrap up a fourth straight UAAP men’s basketball crown, Far Eastern University hopes to figure out a way to turn the series around.
“I told them we’re already here and we can’t just give up,” said FEU coach Bert Flores Saturday. “We’re still positive. We have a Game 2 and we still have a chance.”
The Blue Eagles dominated the second half in soaring past the Tamaraws, 82-64, last Saturday to move within a win of extending their reign in the league’s centerpiece tournament.
Nico Salva knocked in all his attempts to finish with a game-high 24 points for the Eagles, who recorded a phenomenal 60 percent shooting clip, the highest in the league in eight years.
“I already had in my mind that we’re going to go to Nico,” Ateneo coach Norman Black said of his veteran forward, who registered an 8-of-8 from the field and the same perfect clip from the free throw line.
“We really did not go to the post much to Greg (Slaughter) mainly because we knew they’ll double-team him and give him a lot of attention. It really took attention away from Nico. So we decided to attack with Nico and he really delivered for us big time.”
The Eagles, who also outscored the Tamaraws, 50-22, at the paint, came close to the league high of 60.5 percent set by the University of the East over National University on Sept. 4, 2003.
It was also the highest shooting clip in a Finals game since UE posted a 52.2 percent against Ateneo on Oct. 4, 2009.
Moreover, the Eagles registered 18 fastbreak points and had their starters scoring a combined 72 markers, both the highest recorded in a Finals game.
“We need to win the next game,” said Black. “Obviously, you give them (Tamaraws) the momentum if we don’t finish it and they’ll have the confidence going into Game 3. We’re not going to rest just because we won this game.”
The Eagles aim for a sweep in Game 2 of the best-of-three title series at 3 p.m. on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Only La Salle (1998-2001) and University of Santo Tomas (1993-1996) have pulled off four-year title romps since University of the East set the record of seven straight titles (1965-1971).
“If it’s there, we just have to grab it,” said Salva. “We just have to keep on working hard.”
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