Eagles whip Archers; Bulldogs raise Fin 4 bid
Ateneo may just find itself in a spot that seemed improbable a few weeks back. More than getting back at a fierce rival, the Blue Eagles stayed within sight of the top two spots Sunday and the twice-to-beat incentive in the UAAP Final Four.
“What’s most important right now is we’re giving ourselves a chance to catch up with the league leaders,” said Ateneo coach Bo Perasol, after his Eagles repulsed the La Salle Green Archers, 73-62, to climb to 9-4 in the men’s basketball tournament at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“It’s still in our hands. We’re in a very good position now, but that’s not to say the job is done. We just have little victories that we want to celebrate after what happened.”
The past days saw the Eagles dealing with another off-court issue as Cameroonian player Chibueze Ikeh was detained by the police overnight due to a problem in his private life.
The incident came just a couple of weeks after another one of their players, John Apacible, figured in a viral video that saw him in a drunken outburst.
“This is a good way to cap our tumultuous week,” said Perasol as his Eagles streaked to a fifth straight victory. “We were spent emotionally the past few days.”
Von Pessumal and Kiefer Ravena triggered a third-quarter turnaround that lifted Ateneo up by 11 points, 53-42, after trailing in double-digits in the first half.
The Eagles remained close behind Far Eastern University (10-2) and University of Santo Tomas (10-3), the two leaders who have earlier reached the Final Four but have yet to secure the bonus.
The loss dropped the Archers out of the top four at 5-7 as National University moved up from fifth with a 75-69 victory over University of the Philippines.
“If it happens, it happens,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano after his defending champions crashed the top four for the first time this season with a 6-7 record.
“What’s important is we hurdle our assignments.” Gelo Alolino helped the Bulldogs stay in the semifinal hunt by dropping 12 of his game-high 26 points, including baskets that stopped the Maroons’ late rally.
Pessumal pumped in 17 points as Ateneo avenged its embarrassing 76-80 first-round loss to La Salle where the Eagles blew a 15-point advantage.
But the game played out quite the opposite this time as the Eagles rallied from 24-34 deficit.
La Salle also absorbed a blow when star Jeron Teng fouled out with still 3:35 minutes remaining.
NU 75—Alolino 26, Aroga 15, Celda 7, Neypes 7, Salim 6, Alejandro 4, Javillonar 3, Yu 3, Javelona 2, Morido 2, Abatayo 0, Diputado 0.
UP 69—Dario 13, Manuel 13, Desiderio 10, Amar 9, Kone 6, Asilum 4, Gallarza 4, Moralde 4, Harris 2, Lim 2, Longa 2, Jaboneta 0, Juruena 0, Webb 0.
Quarters: 13-18, 28-31, 52-42, 75-69
ATENEO 73—Pessumal 17, Ravena 15, Black 13, Wong 10, Nieto 6, Gotladera 5, Ikeh 4, Go 2, Capacio 1, Babilonia 0, Cani 0, Tolentino A. 0, Tolentino V. 0.
LA SALLE 62—Rivero 16, Teng 11, Perkins 8, Torralba 8, Muyang 6, Torres 6, Caracut 5, Go 2, Langsto 0, Navarro 0, Tratter 0.
Quarters: 13-23, 30-35, 53-44, 73-62
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