Matt Nieto picks best time to regain form, has career high in UAAP Finals opener | Inquirer Sports

Matt Nieto picks best time to regain form, has career high in UAAP Finals opener

By: - Reporter / @BLozadaINQ
/ 12:04 PM December 02, 2018

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

There couldn’t have been a better time for Matt Nieto to regain his form.

Nieto was instrumental in the clutch in leading defending champion Ateneo over University of the Philippines, 88-79, in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball Finals.

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READ: Ravena, Nieto push Ateneo past UP in Game 1

But it almost didn’t happen for Nieto, who only returned to the Blue Eagles in the last three games of their elimination round schedule.

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Nieto fractured his right pinky finger in the early part of Ateneo’s 82-62 win over Far Eastern University in the second round and while recovering from the injury he contracted dengue that forced him to miss games.

“It’s a step-by-step process especially that I fractured my finger and I had dengue,” said Nieto, who finished with a career-high 27 points on 4-of-5 shooting from deep Saturday night at Mall of Asia Arena as Ateneo closed in on its 10th UAAP men’s basketball crown. “I struggled to get back to my game, to find my rhythm, but it fortunately, it paid off.”

Nieto was relatively silent in the Blue Eagles’ last four games averaging just 5.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists but that was a quiet prequel to what the shooting guard did to the Fighting Maroons in the finals.

With Ateneo trading buckets with UP throughout much of the game, Nieto decide he’s seen enough as he scored seven points in the Blue Eagles’ game-deciding run where they outscored the Fighting Maroons, 14-2, in the fourth quarter.

Nieto connected on the biggest haymaker of the game when he knocked down a booming triple to cap off the run and give Ateneo an 87-73 lead with 2:07 left.

“I credit coach Tab (Baldwin) and my teammates for trusting me in that situation and I want to win,” said Nieto. “I don’t want to lose.”

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TAGS: Ateneo Blue Eagles, career high, Game 1, matt nieto, Sports, UAAP Finals, UAAP Season 81, UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament, UP Fighting Maroons
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