Ateneo nails eighth straight win, UE sparks modest streak
Ateneo started the second round of UAAP Season 80 the same way it kicked off the season: Soaring over Adamson.
Almost seamless with their defensive execution, the Blue Eagles clipped the Falcons, 71-59, Saturday to extend their unbeaten streak to eight games in the men’s basketball tournament at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Hardly missing a beat even after their 76-75 upset of La Salle last Sunday, the Eagles proved relentless in the last two quarters to snap the Falcons’ four-game winning streak.
Thirdy Ravena bounced back from a poor shooting performance against La Salle, firing a game-high 15 points, while the rest of the Eagles got going, including seldom-used guard BJ Andrade, who hit a triple with two minutes remaining to give Ateneo its biggest lead, 71-50.
The loss foiled the Falcons’ bid to keep in step with the Green Archers after they fell to 5-3 for solo third. Adamson shot just 34 percent from the field, but more than Ateneo’s effort to challenge shots, the Eagles actually took the Falcons’ shooters out of their comfort zone, especially Jerrick Ahanmisi and Rob Manalang.
“We wanted to make sure our defense wouldn’t let us down,” said Ateneo coach Sandy Arespacochaga. “It was a defensive game in the first half, but we scored 23 points in the third quarter. We also did a good job defending their perimeter players.”
Aaron Black, who finished with seven points, added: “We followed the game plan. We didn’t execute well on offense, but we executed our defensive game plan.”
Arespacochaga was quick to remind the Eagles that they haven’t achieved anything yet this season, even with their unbeaten streak.
“We’re not really looking at our record right now,” said Arespacochaga. “What coach Tab is telling us is the next game is right in front of us. We did well, but we’re still trying to improve on our mistakes. That’s what we always talk about.”
With its confidence soaring, University of the East also continued its sharp form with a 90-77 victory over National U for its second straight win of the season.
With Alvin Pasaol on the bench in the final period due to foul trouble, the Warriors got an unlikely lift from the trio of Mark Olayon, Wilson Bartolome and Mark Maloles to hike their record to 2-6.
“I think we thought about it the whole week that if we want to make a run, we have to start the second round on a winning note,” said UE coach Derrick Pumaren. “It will get tighter [in the Final Four race]. We showed tonight that we can play consistent.”
Pasaol was held to just 11 points after averaging 40.5 points in their last two games. But Olayon more than picked up the slack as he dished out eight assists while scoring 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
“He had four fouls so I felt there’s no need for us to use Alvin,” said Pumaren.
The Bulldogs came within 70-65 with seven minutes left, but the Warriors responded with four straight baskets to seal the win. NU lost for the fourth time in five games.