Ateneo crushes UST for first-round sweep as rivals scramble to stay within step of defending champions
Defending champion Ateneo ended the first round exactly the way everyone expected.
On top of the heap. Unbeaten. Looking every inch invincible.
The Blue Eagles ripped apart yet another foe, cruising to a 91-80 victory over University of Santo Tomas on Saturday to complete a first-round sweep of the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.
And Ateneo isn’t done yet.
“We gave up 80 points and that’s too much for us. We have a lot of lessons learned in the first round,” said Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
“We have to improve going into the next round.”
That’s bad news for the teams emerging as Ateneo’s potential banana peels.
University of the Philippines, leaning on Zavier Lucero, Carl Tamayo and Joel Cagulangan down the stretch, held off Far Eastern U, 83-76. The Maroons’ sixth straight victory—UP hadn’t strung up a win streak that long in nearly two decades—propelled them to a 6-1 record at the end of the first round for second place.
FEU dropped to 3-4.
Lucero delivered a clutch triple that gave UP a 76-70 lead under the last two minutes.
Tamayo and Cagulangan knocked down clutch shots to fend off FEU’s rally and cement the victory.
La Salle, meanwhile, banked on Justine Baltazar’s crucial blocks and the clutch triple of Evan Nelle to survive a gritty Adamson side, 61-58.
“I don’t think this is a good game because in the stats, I had three turnovers, and one assist,” said the transferee from San Beda, who had 12 points from four triples.
The Archers, who trailed briefly by eight in the fourth quarter, survived the stretch on Nelle’s triple, Baltazar’s defense and Joaqui Manuel’s free throws.
National U made short work of the hapless University of the East, 77-61, to end its first round on a high note.
The Bulldogs took their fourth win in seven games, just a notch below the Archers’ 5-2 slate.“Big win for us,” said NU coach Jeff Napa. “We will bring this momentum heading to the second round.”
The Eagles used their depth to send the Tigers to their fifth loss in seven games.
Chris Koon had a triple late in the first period to push Ateneo ahead, 25-12, and then had an assist late in the second to Matt Daves that gave the Blue Eagles a 50-40 spread, 53 seconds remaining before the break.
In between those was a dizzying rotation of contributors—BJ Andrade, Tyler Tio, Ange Kouame and Josh Lazaro took turns dropping buckets on a hapless UST defense.
Tio finished with 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field to lead Ateneo. INQ
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