Wong’s hot shooting boosts Ateneo win over La Salle
MANILA, Philippines—A season away from Ateneo was more than enough fuel for Adrian Wong to come out stronger in his return for the Blue Eagles in UAAP Season 82.
And although it took a while for Wong to find his groove, the timing of the Texas-raised guard’s return to form could not have been better for an Ateneo team chasing a third straight crown.
Wong fired a season-high 18 points as the Eagles subdued fierce rival De La Salle Green Archers, 77-69, on Sunday that secured another Final Four berth for Ateneo at MOA Arena.
Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin said Wong’s performance was a testament to his players’ ability to step up when the team needs it.
“I think if Adrian doesn’t come out hot, we’re in trouble in the first half,” said Baldwin, referring to Wong’s two treys that helped the Eagles gain a slim cushion in the first half that laid the foundation in the victory.
“But fortunately, he did. And I think it’s another example of, you know, somebody else on our roster stepping up and, and, you know, having a good game when it was needed.”
Ateneo skipper Mike Nieto echoed Baldwin’s sentiments, saying that Wong’s performance was a reward of their preparation heading into the season.
“That’s the beauty of our team. In any game, any player can step up,” said Ateneo captain Mike Nieto. “That’s what we worked on the whole offseason.”
Wong, who entered the game, averaging just under six points an outing, was glad to finally make a huge impact at such an important game for his team.
But he was quick to deflect credit to the rest of the Eagles, whom he said never lost their faith in him even when he was injured and struggled in the first round.
“Coming back from injury, I had to work in the weight room and everything else on my skills because I have to start over because of my injury,” said Wong, who had seven of his output in the final quarter.
“But this game means a lot because it’s Ateneo-La Salle and I was finally able to get back to my rhythm. My teammates just continued to believe in me and with our chemistry together, any one of us could step up.”