Ateneo bags sixth win, hands NU third straight loss
Ateneo remained perfect in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament after turning back National University, 96-83, Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles scored their season-high and retained their spot atop the eight-team ladder with a 6-0 record while the Bulldogs slipped to their third straight loss and fell to a 2-4 card.
NU trailed 85-73 late in the fourth but the Bulldogs tried to build momentum with five unanswered points to cut the deficit to seven, 85-78, on an Issa Gaye throwdown in transition with 2:46 to play.
Thirdy Ravena, however, quelled any hopes of a comeback with a booming triple that gave Ateneo a 10-point lead, 88-78, with 2:20 remaining in the game.
Chibueze Ikeh effectively put the game away as he rolled to the basket for the open layup to push the lead to 14 with under a minute to play.
Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga knew they had to avoid playing NU’s pace after allowing the Bulldogs to partially dictate the tempo in the first three quarters.
“NU’s a tough team, we knew that coming in,” said Arespacochaga. “We played their pace, which was an up and down game. Good thing in the fourth quarter we played better defense.”
And that defense was focused on NU’s J-Jay Alejandro who had 21 points coming into the fourth but was limited to just three in the final period.
Ikeh tied his career-high of 18 points, to go along 11 rebounds, while Vince Tolentino also finished with his own career-high of 15 points.
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