Blue Eagles squeeze past Falcons; Tams score
MANILA—Ateneo coach Norman Black had said this just might be the toughest season yet for the Blue Eagles.
And the Eagles felt exactly that right in their maiden game as the three-time champions rallied to slip past the tenacious Adamson Falcons, 55-51, yesterday in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Eagles held the Falcons scoreless in the final seven minutes of the game that also saw the sensational debut of the controversial Greg Slaughter.
“It was pretty much what I expected, a defensive struggle,” said Black.
The 6-foot-11 Slaughter, who got the go-signal to play in the league just four days earlier, came out huge on both ends with 23 points on top of eight rebounds, two assists and a pair of blocks.
Kirk Long, who chipped in 10 points, got a crucial goal-tending call that gave the Eagles the lead for good at 53-51, after Ateneo trailed, 44-51, in the closing minutes.
Last year’s runner-up Far Eastern University also got its campaign going with a 74-65 victory over La Salle in the first game.
RR Garcia showcased the form that bagged him last season’s MVP, firing 17 of his 21 points in the second half as the Tamaraws took full control.
Aside from praising Garcia and his big men led by Aldrech Ramos, coach Bert Flores also noted his Tamaraws’ patience in breaking the Green Archers’ trademark pressure defense.
“We were able to break La Salle’s press, that’s the key,” said Flores. “We also played good defense and had good ball movement.”
Ramos had 16 points and eight rebounds and Carl Cruz and Mark Bringas also provided muscle down low to help fill the gap left by injured Cameroonian forward Pipo Noundou.
The Falcons, whose losing streak to the Eagles stretched to 29 games dating back to 1997, shot a horrible 2-of-21 from the field in the final period.
Adamson’s last basket came from Kenyan Austin Manyara, 51-44, with 6:58 minutes left, before Slaughter fired five of Ateneo’s next seven points to knot the game at 51.
“The advantage we had was we could drop the ball in the post to Greg,” said Black. “We really tried to take advantage of that.”
Two free throws by Emman Monfort with 16.3 seconds left sealed the Eagles’ win.
Kiefer Ravena, Ateneo’s other celebrated rookie, had a scoreless debut but registered two rebounds and an assist in 14 minutes of play.
The Tamaraws posted their first double-digit advantage at 58-48 after Garcia opened the fourth period with back-to-back triples.
“I was still adjusting in the first half, so I just played decoy, but I found my rhythm in the second half,” said Garcia, who also drew support from last year’s top rookie Terrence Romeo.
Romeo grabbed eight boards and dished out eight assists to go with his six points.
LA Revilla, who was sidelined by illness for two seasons, paced the Archers with 18 points, five boards and five assists.
FEU 74—Garcia 21, Ramos 16, Cawaling 10, Cruz 9, Romeo 6, Bringas 5, Tolomia 3, Escoto 2, Excimiano 2, Sentcheu 0, Pogoy 0.
LA SALLE 65—Revilla 18, Dela Paz 9, Tampus 8, Van Opstal 5, Webb 5, Torres 4, Marata 4, Gotladera 2, Vosotros 2, Atkins 2, Villanueva 1, Mendoza 1, Sara 0, Paredes 0.
Quarters: 18-18, 35-33, 52-45, 74-65
ATENEO 55—Slaughter 23, Long 10, Salva 8, Monfort 6, Erram 3, Gonzaga 3, Austria 2, Ravena 0, Tiongson 0, Sumalinog 0, Golla 0, Chua 0.
ADAMSON 51—Nuyles 11, Alvarez 8, Cañada 6, Camson 6, Cabrera 6,Manyara 5, Lozada 3, Etrone 2, Brondial 2, Colina 2.
Quarters: 16-12, 33-27, 43-44,55-51
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