Ateneo rules UAAP Jrs basketball, beats NU in thriller
With the game on the line, SJ Belangel sent the ball to the heavens and got his prayers answered.
The shifty playmaker canned the crucial foul shots in the last 9.8 seconds as Ateneo escaped Nazareth School of National University, 63-58, to once again be crowned the king of UAAP juniors’ basketball Friday at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
In the thrilling stretch, Belangel’s charities put the Blue Eaglets up, 62-58, and virtually sealed the Season 80 title, their first juniors’ championship since brothers Mike and Matt Nieto steered the school to the throne back in Season 77.
— Randolph B. Leongson (@RLeongsonINQ) March 2, 2018
Kai Sotto survived a foul-plagued outing and helped Ateneo recover from a 54-48 deficit, scoring seven of his 19 points in the last 4:18, while also hauling down 13 rebounds and rejecting three shots en route to him being named as the Finals MVP.
Belangel chipped in 16 markers and eight boards, while Dave Ildefonso got a near-double double with his 13 points and nine rebounds as the Blue Eaglets completed a fitting ending to what was almost a perfect season for them.
“I just told the boys to stay composed. We’ll fight back,” said coach Joe Silva.
It was a classic duel between the top high school teams in the UAAP which saw heroes come out from both sides.
Terrence Fortea went on a blitz in the second half, unloading 12 of his 14 points in the final two quarters, but none bigger than his wrap-around assist to Rhayyan Amsali to give NU the six-point lead in the final four minutes.
Robert Minerva chimed in 13 markers and nine boards in the defeat, while Matthew Manalang got eight.
ATENEO 63 — Sotto 19, Belangel 16, Ildefonso 13, Credo 4, Manuel 4, Chiu 4, David 3, Escalona 0, Jaymalin 0, Santos 0.
NU 58 — Fortea 14, Minerva 13, Manalang 8, Oczon 7, Amsali 6, Javillonar 5, Pangilinan 3, Malonzo 2, Coyoca 0.
Quarters: 15-6, 28-23, 44-43, 63-58.
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