RECAP: Ateneo Blue Eagles Get Their Revenge Against DLSU, Capture Their 9th Championship Title.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The greatest sports rivalry in Philippine history squared off Sunday afternoon at the Araneta Coliseum in the two best words any UAAP fan can hear: Game. 3.

Ateneo celebrated their 9th championship Thursday night (Photo Courtesy of LJ Mendoza)

The day before, tickets sold out before any announcement could be made, as fans already started camping outside Araneta coliseum as early as 1 am, leaving only General Admission tickets and tickets from resellers/scalpers the only ones available to purchase. The rivalry between DLSU and ADMU could be well seen through social media and fans. 

Like the first two games of the finals, the game had lots of physicality and spirit, as 22,012 were in attendance. ADMU quickly jumped to a 4-0 lead off buckets from C Chibueze Ikeh and F Thirdy Ravena. Threes were going in everywhere from both sides. At the end of the first, the Eagles led DLSU by double digits at 24-14. La Salle turned the ball over 10 times, mostly off deflections and fouls, in just the first quarter. 

In the second quarter, the Green Archers came back charging as their excellent defense led to a 10-1 run. Ateneo didn’t get their first field goal of the quarter until the 5:34 mark. ADMU was able to maintain their 2-4 point lead during the last 5 minutes of the quarter until DLSU Guard Ricci Rivero grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on the post for a second chance opportunity, handing them a 38-37 lead, their first of the game. The Blue Eagles closed the first half on an 8-0 run including a heavily contested bank shot from three made by G Anton Asistio at the buzzer. DLSU outscored ADMU 24-21 in this quarter.

At the end of the first half, the score was 45-38 in Ateneo’s favor. Thirdy Ravena led all scorers with 11 points while the reigning back-to-back MVP Center Ben Mbala and G Andrei Caracut led the Green Archers with 7 points apart. the Green Archers had 14 turnovers with 3 steals compared to Ateneo’s 8 turnovers with 6 steals, but DLSU was able to outrebound the Eagles, 27-22. ADMU was shooting 44 percent from the field while being able to hold DLSU at just 37 percent. 

During the beginning of the second half, shots were going in for both sides as was the great defense. DLSU G Aljun Melecio was able to drive through the lane for the 51-50 lead over Ateneo but Matt Nieto quickly responded with a three of his own to take back the lead for ADMU, his first since missing his first three in the game. The next few possessions turned to a three point shootout, with a total of three lead changes in a span of just 2 minutes. Ricci Rivero came up with two highlight plays during this stretch, one being a behind the back dribble slicing through defenders and a one handed baseline jam off a steal to snatch a 60-59 lead over Ateneo. At the end of the third, the game is tied at 66. La Salle again outscored Ateneo 28-21.

Now in the last 10 minutes of the season, DLSU’s star players Ben Mbala and Ricci Rivero were both playing with three fouls each. Matt Nieto finally recaptured the lead for the Eagles with a three pointer and Asistio made it a back-to-back three which was all part of their 8-0 run to make the lead 76-68 in Ateneo’s favor with just 5 minutes left in the game. DLSU shot poorly from the perimeter as they were 0-for-7 until Aljun Melecio shot a three to keep DLSU’s hopes for a repeat alive. DLSU came up with several clutch plays including a 4 point play from Mbala and Rivero and a clutch three from G Andrei Caracut to cut Ateneo’s lead to just 2. With less than a minute left, Ateneo led 82-80. Ateneo C Isaac Go came up for the dagger once again with a contested three. Aljun Melecio’s second chance three wasn’t enough as ADMU sealed the game with two free throws. As time expired, Andrei Caracut threw a three pointer that counted. 

Ricci Rivero and Ben Mbala of DLSU hug each other in tears in defeat (Photo Courtesy of Ian Genada)

Ateneo captured their 9th championship, their first in 5 years. They now lead the all-time finals series against La Salle, 3-2. The Adamson Soaring Falcons won 2nd runner-up while the De La Salle Green Archers won 1st runner-up. Isaac Go won the Manulife Heart and Hustle Player while the PS Bank Player of the Finals and UAAP 80 Finals MVP was awarded to Thirdy Ravena, who averaged 16.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, and 1.3 SPG in three games throughout the Finals.

Deja vu: Another thrilling game between La Salle and Ateneo but this time the Green Archers takes home the W

Ben Mbala scored a game high 28 points against Ateneo Blue Eagles in their 79-76 victory.


For Ateneo and De La Salle it was a little bit of deja vu. But this time in favor of the Green Archers. 
And it led to De La Salle University denying Ateneo de Manila University of sweeping the UAAP Season 80 elimination round. The Green Archers took home the W with the score of  79-76. 
Like their first meeting, the Ateneo vs DLSU matchup ended with a pair of clutch free throws but this time it was Ricci Rivero of the Green Archers who sealed the game. The Blue Eagles and the Green Archers started the game with so much physicality. The Green Archers were able to execute their mayhem defense but the Blue Eagles matched it with better offense. 
The Green Archers only led 37-35 at the half. However, at the start of the second half, the Blue Eagles turned the tables as they took a 9 point lead, 63-54, at the end of the third quarter by sticking to the good game plan by coach Baldwin. 
However, DLSU tightened their defense at the fourth quarter. Led by Ben Mbala, the Green Archers clawed their way back into the game. Despite the non whistle calls by the referees like the no travel call of Ateneo, La Salle kept their composure and they were able to make eight straight points before a nice spin move and a floater from Kib Montalbo with 40.3 seconds left which gave the Green Archers the lead. The DLSU crowd erupted as the ball fell at the bottom of the net. The Green Archers took a 77-76 advantage and forced Ateneo to take a time out. 
The mayhem defense by the Green Archers almost did not work against a play drawn by coach Tab Baldwin which set up Isaac Go for a wide open basket but Go blew the semi-hook and missed the shot as Mbala tried to contest the shot. Rivero was able to get the rebound and was then fouled. This led Ricci Rivero into the line.
Ricci Rivero finished the game with 21 points as he scored both free throws. Ateneo tried to tie the game but Asistio was blocked by Ricci. 
Ricci rushed to the bench as the buzzer sound and pounded his chest with joy as they handed Ateneo their only lost for the elimination round of UAAP season 80.
Ben Mbala led  all scorers with with 28 points, 19 rebounds, 6 steals and 6 blocks while Ricci Rivero also contributed 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks along with his 21 points.
Thirdy Ravena led Ateneo with 15 point while Isaac Go and Matt Nieto scored 13 and 12 points respectively.
Box Scores:
DLSU 79 – Mbala 28, Rivero R 21, Tratter 8, Santillan 7, Melecio 6, Montalbo 6, Go 3, Caracut 0, Rivero P 0, Baltazar 0, Paraiso 0
ATENEO 76 – Ravena 15, Go 13, Nieto Ma 12, Verano 9, Mendoza 7, Asistio 6, Tolentino 6, Ikeh 4, Porter 3, Nieto Mi 1, Mamuyac 0, Black 0

No Automatic Finals Birth: La Salle stunned Ateneo to Force a Final Four

We will have a Final 4 as La Salle denies Ateneo’s attempt to sweep the eliminations by winning their match up earlier, 79 to 76.
A win by Ateneo will send them directly to the Finals but La Salle crashed the party.

Ateneo was in cruise control and was able to lead as much as 12 points and had enough lead midway 4th quarter but it’s La Salle’s MAYHEM defense which helped them to inch closer.
Only down by 1, La Salle gave the ball to their co-captain, Kib Montalbo who drove to the paint once then dropped a floater to give them the lead.
Ateneo had a chance to take back the lead but Isaac Go missed a semi-hook shot over the outstretched arms of Ben Mbala. Then Ricci Rivero sunk 2 crucial freebies to seal the deal for the Green Archers.
Ben Mbala led La Salle with 28 points, 19 rebounds, 6 steals and 6 blocks while Ricci Rivero managed to chip in 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go and Matt Nieto combined for 40 points for Ateneo.
Box Scores:
DLSU 79 – Mbala 28, Rivero R 21, Tratter 8, Santillan 7, Melecio 6, Montalbo 6, Go 3, Caracut 0, Rivero P 0, Baltazar 0, Paraiso 0
ATENEO 76 – Ravena 15, Go 13, Nieto Ma 12, Verano 9, Mendoza 7, Asistio 6, Tolentino 6, Ikeh 4, Porter 3, Nieto Mi 1, Mamuyac 0, Black 0
Quarter Scores: 17-22, 37-35, 54-63, 79-76
~ Ben Mbala hurt his elbow midway through the 3rd quarter.
~ Too many missed calls from the referee including a tripping incident involving Ateneo’s Mamuyac and La Salle’s Ben Mbala.
~ Final four will begin next weekend.
~ It was a highly physical game that resulted to 49 total fouls and 48 free throws.

First Round Sweep: Ateneo Blue Eagles Outlasted La Salle Green Archers

When defense matters the most. 

Ateneo’s defense saves them on losing their first game of the tournament as they made back-to-back crucial stops together with clutch free throw shooting from Matt Nieto to give them a narrow 76 to 75 win against the defending champions, DLSU Green Archers.

Matt Nieto drained 2 crucial free throws as he was fouled by Kib Montalblo after they force a steal on La Salle.
La Salle actually attempted 2 short-range shots to try to steal the game but no avail.
It was all Ateneo in the first half as Anton Asistio and Matt Nieto waxed hot from the outside and they led as much as 13 points. But La Salle came back at the second half and took a 1 point lead with few seconds remaining in the game but it was not enough.
Ateneo remained as the only undefeated team in the tournament with a record of 7-0 while La Salle is still in solo second with 5-2 record.

Ateneo ends La Salle’s winning streak to 12 by winning over archrival 83-71.

Ateneo ended De La Salle’s 12-game winning streak on an epic battle between the two archrivals at Smart Araneta Coliseum on the UAAP Men’s Basketball Season 79 Second Round of elimination round. Ateneo overcome La Salle’s pressing defense to defeat the Taft based school with a 83-71 victory.

Many have thought that the De La Salle Green Archers will sweep the elimation round, coming into the game with 12-0 record. But the big men of Ateneo played outstanding defense to La Salle big man Ben Mbala forcing him to commit 7 turnovers. La Salle’s Jeron Teng played his last elimination game versus their nemisis Ateneo Blue Eagles. Teng led the Green Archers with 18 points. Mbala also contributed 17 points and 15 boards for the Archers.

Ateneo was led by Aaron Black with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Aaron was coming from an injury. He is the son of Meralco Bolts head coach Norman Black. Matt Nieto and George Go also contributed 15 and 10 points respectively. Ateneo is now on a three-game winning streak and now secured a spot for UAAP Season 79 Final Four.

La Salle Destroyed Ateneo, 97 – 81; Sweeps 1st Round of Elimination

Even without Coach Aldin Ayo and College Superstar Jeron Teng, La Salle are simply too much for Ateneo.

Ateneo was able to lead by as much as 6 points in the second quarter but since then it was all La Salle as they unleashed a 21 – 3 run and never looked back.

Ben Mbala dominates the game by finishing 28 points, 13 rebounds and 5 steals. La Salle also got a lift from Andrei Caracut, Abu Tratter, Thomas Torres, Kib Montalbo ang Ricci Rivero who combined for 48 points.

Defense basically makes it happen for La Salle as they forced Ateneo to 30 turnovers. They also dominates the inside game and posted a 52 inside points and 49 total rebounds

Ateneo was led by John Wong and Matt Nieto with 15 and 14 markers respectively.

La Salle sweeps the first round but the team says that they are still a working in and they are just around 75% to 80%.

The scores:
DLSU (97) — Mbala 28, Caracut 14, Tratter 10, Torres 8, Montalbo 8, R. Rivero 8, Melecio 5, Perkins 5, Dyke 4, Baltazar 2, Go 2, Paraiso 2, P. Rivero 1, Sargent 0.
Ateneo (81) — Wong 15, Ma. Nieto 13, Asistio 11, Ravena 11, Mendoza 9, Ikeh 7, Porter 6, Go 5, Babilonia 2, Mi. Nieto 2, Tolentino 0, Verano 0.
Quarterscores: 20-20, 53-36, 80-58, 97-81.

DLSU Lady Spikers wins UAAP Season 78 Women’s Volleyball Championship

The De La Salle University Lady Spikers defeated arch rival and the two-time defending champions Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles as they battle it out in a winner-take-all Game 3 of the 78th UAAP women’s volleyball title series earlier at Araneta Coliseum.
The Katipunan based Lady Eagles won the first set but the Lady Spikers from Taft bounced back by winning the next three sets.
Set scores were 25-19, 21-25, 16-25, 16-25.
The Lady Spiker were led by Kim Kianna Dy with 17 points which was also later declared as Finals MVP.

It was an emotional farewell game for league three-time Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez as she delivered 31 points but not enough to carry her team to victory.
Here are some photos on earlier’s game:

Ateneo beat La Salle IN UAAP Season 78 second round meeting

The college rivalry continues as the defending champion Ateneo De Manila University got their revenge as they defeated rival De La Salle Lady Spikers in the UAAP Season 78 second round of elimination earlier at Mall of Asia Arena.

ADMU clinched the top seed in women’s volleyball tournament with the win.

Set scores as follows: 21-25, 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 15-5

On their first meeting, the DLSU handed Ateneo their only loss on the first round.

Here are some pictures on today’s match-up:

Three straight wins for the Ateneo Blue Eagle Womens Volleyball

Last Jan. 31, 2016, UAAP’s 78th season was held at FilOil Arena at San Juan with Ateneo Blue Eagles leading with 3 sets straight wins leaving NU bulldogs, though they tried hard to bring home the bacon, it wasn’t meant for them in the end.

FEU meltdown warning!

Will Tamaraws succumb to the Blue Eagles in game 2?

The UAAP men’s basketball finals on Saturday was almost an indication of things to come. I am not sure what happened in the game but FEU needs to hold their ground because the Eagles are going to eat them alive. 82- 64 was a massacre, Nico Salva and Kiefer Ravena torched them to death and the exhausted Tamaraws just could not regain their strength. 
Anyways on Tuesday September 27 at 3 pm The Tamaraws will once again try to overcome the odds in Game 2. I am however guessing that they will come up short once again as the Eagles has shown time and again this series that they can adjust to different situation. I am not for the blue Eagles, I just don’t think that the FEU have the tool to win the championship this year, Unless you think otherwise. You are welcome to oppose me.

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Ateneo Coach Norman Black and the Blue Eagles

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Coach Norman Black talks about the defeat and how they handled all the question and being ready for the next game( Finals). Kiefer Ravena also talks about the game. UAAP Final Four. Watch the Interview Video. Ateneo is waiting for the winner of Adamson vs FEU, one more game on September 28.

Kiefer Ravena and Norman Black Interview

Video courtesy of PhilStar

Adamson seeks rebound

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Game Sunday (Smart-Araneta Coliseum)
3 p.m. — Adamson vs FEU
MANILA, Philippines — After scoring a stunning win over Ateneo that denied the Blue Eagles a rare 14-game sweep of the UAAP basketball tournament eliminations, Adamson University looked spent and miserable when they faced Far Eastern University last Thursday in the other half of the semifinals.
There was none of the aggressiveness and determination that characterized their epoch-making win over Ateneo and for this, the Falcons paid dearly with a 59-49 loss to the Tamaraws that will make their next encounter on Sunday a do-or-die game for both.


Ateneo clinches first finals berth

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Ateneo‘s near perfect performance was nearly put to waste by a gallant comeback Thursday by the University of Santo Tomas.
The Blue Eagles weathered off that fierce comeback in the dying seconds to escape with a 69-66 win and clinch the first finals berth in the 74th UAAP basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Source: MB

Kiefer Ravena: The Phenom stays home

There is no more doubt that Kiefer Ravena will play for Ateneo.
Despite Kiefer announcing his decision a couple of months ago, some people were still left unconvinced until he donned the blue-and-white in competition.
Well those reservations were answered when Kiefer played as a legitimate Blue Eagle in the Fil-Oil Pre-Season Tournament last weekend. And he did not just play. He basically carried the team to its first win against defending NCAA champions San Beda Red Lions. With 25 points composed mostly of crucial baskets (who could forget the alley hoop to Greg Slaughter?), it’s safe to say Kiefer has broken into collegiate basketball.

The high school phenom
While other high school students were just hoping to pass college entrance tests, Kiefer was busy deciding which offer he would take.
Kiefer is the first freshman to make it straight to the Ateneo Blue Eaglet’s UAAP lineup. He led the team to three UAAP Juniors championships during his high school career. Aptly named Season 73’s Most Valuable Player, he averaged 20 points and 5.2 assists per game in his last year.
High school basketball phenomena happen rarely so when they do, talks on their college choice never end. Kiefer received offers from several schools. He even considered playing college basketball in the United States, but received no concrete offer from a Division I school because of his age.

Only 17-years-old, Kiefer is too young to go straight to college in the US. He would probably be sent back to fourth year high school if he was to play there.
“Mabubugbog ako masyado don. Sa States, students graduate from high school at 18 or 19. Eh yung mga kalaban mo dun athletic na, malalaki pa,” he says.
Then again, Kiefer doesn’t consider height a hindrance to playing abroad. Besides, he plays as a guard.
“If you work hard and you do your best lang, kahit gaano ka kaliit, maugustuhan ka naman ng coach,” he adds.
“Hindi nagpapa-presyo”
During the long – and for Ateneans, painful – wait on Kiefer’s official announcement, there have been mixed responses. Many blue die-hards kept their fingers crossed, hoping the six years Kiefer spent in Ateneo was enough to keep him loyal. After all, putting him in the Blue Eagles’ lineup would be the last nail towards a four-peat.
Yet there were others who felt like the whole thing’s been blown out of proportion. Sure he’s an exceptional basketball player, but the choice he is making is just that – a choice on which school he would study in and play for.
Why did he take months to pick a university anyway?
“Hindi naman sa nagpapa-presyo ako o nagpapatagal, pero it’s a life-changing decision. I really needed time to think about it personally. I hope I made some of them [critics] happy, since I went to Ateneo pa rin naman,” he explains.
Rumors also circulated that Kiefer would hold a press conference just to announce his decision.
“Impossible naman ata na magpapa-presscon para lang sa’kin. The focus isn’t just on me. There are a lot of other high school players. I announced my decision nga through Facebook lang, status pa,” he adds.
Contrary to what many people think, Kiefer didn’t receive anything special from Ateneo. He says that he gets what the other players get. The biggest factor on his choice to stay is loyalty. That simple. In fact, as early as last June, he was already pretty much set on going to Ateneo.
“I applied only to Ateneo. I didn’t take tests other than the ACET,” he says. “It’s everyone’s high school dream to play for Ateneo in college. Aside from the winning tradition, it’s the quality education that’s important. Okay din yung campus and teammates ko.”
Kiefer may have been the golden boy in high school, with extremely passionate fans who ask him to autograph their bodies. However, he’s ready to leave that part of his life behind and go to college.
“Sawa na ko sa mukha ng mga classmates ko kasi block section kami since second year,” he kids. “I’m going to miss my classmates, but I’m really excited to go to college. It’s like freedom. Palipat-lipat ka na ng classroom, tapos may freecuts. Exciting.”
Just like any other boy, he’s also thrilled to finally have female classmates, although that means less jokes and pranks. Speaking of girls, Kiefer keeps mum on whether there would be anyone special cheering him on as he dons the Blue and White next UAAP season.
“My parents! They’re the special-est,” he laughs. “Well I do hope someone would cheer for me. We’ll see.”
Still open to playing in the US
Although Kiefer is already set on playing for the Blue Eagles, he’s not closing the doors on playing abroad given that the offer comes from a reputable school.
“If it’s a top school in the US, siguro sila Coach Norman would allow me to go there. It’s also a chance to represent the school and the country. I can say that Ateneo molded me and trained me, and it’s gonna be good for them too,” he says. “Pero di ko muna iniisip yun kasi may UAAP pa.”
The Ateneo Blue Eagles are currently enjoying three consecutive crowns in the UAAP. With the team’s core intact and additional players coming in, a four-peat may not be too far off.
“Hindi lang ako makakasagot kung makaka-four-peat, kundi yung mga seniors. I’m just a rookie. The seniors have earned their minutes. They’ve earned their respect already. And that’s what I’ll be trying to earn – one practice, one day at a time,” he ends.
With the game he played in the Fil-Oil, he’s earned my respect already. — OMG, GMA News


tags: Ateneo Blue Eagles, Ateneo Blue Eagles ravena, Ateneo Blue Eagles Kiefer ravena, Ateneo Blue Eagles,Fioil, Kiefer Ravena highlights, Kiefer Ravena

Ateneo buries FEU

By Josiah Israel Albelda for Yahoo!
Ateneo takes Game 1.
Kirk Long’s new gold hairdo might have waxed prophetic for Ateneo de Manila.
In a match where everything went golden for the Blue Eagles, the Katipunan five took one step closer to its dream three-peat after an easy 72 – 49 drubbing of the lethargic Far Eastern University squad in Game 1 of the 73rd UAAP men’s basketball tournament finals Saturday afternoon.

Ateneo looked every bit a champion, stunning the Tamaraws with a 15-0 blitz in the first quarter to turn a 9 to 6 lead into a 24 to 6 bubble, which they never relinquished.
On the other hand, the Morayta cagers were more like pretenders than contenders in their first Finals appearance in four years as they turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and shot an atrocious seven-of-32 (21.9%) before 16, 834 fans at the Araneta Coliseum.
“We just did a good job preparing,” an ecstatic Coach Norman Black told reporters.
“We’re happy. We’re excited. But we’re not overconfident.”
The Blue Eagles ran roughshod over their shocked foes, converting on 15 fastbreak points while holding the Tamaraws to none in the latter’s worst performance of the season.
FEU came tantalizingly close to equaling their horrible performance in Game 1 of the 1998 Finals, when they bowed to De La Salle, 47 – 72, in the lowest output in recent memory.
“I am embarrassed,” said Athletic Director Mark Molina of his team’s showing. “We were completely outplayed. We let everybody down. We surrendered.”
True enough, the Ateneo five pushed the ball until the dying seconds and outscored the Tamaraws in every quarter while still enforcing their leech-like defense to the hilt.
“We had our best game of the year,” Black added. “We did a good job shooting the ball. We did a good job on our perimeter defense.”

Long who had his hair done by a sister who left for the United States this week typified the Blue Eagles’ clock-like efficiency with 14 points, five rebounds and two steals on a perfect 4-of-4 from two-point field.
Meanwhile, Justin Chua, Nico Salva and JP Erram combined forces to dominate FEU’s big men and post 27 markers, 17 rebounds and six blocks.
“Matagal na naming pina-practice yun (containing FEU’s bigs),” Erram said. “Ginawa ko lang yung role ko kase kailangang mag step up.”
League Most Valuable Player Ryan Roose Garcia and Rookie of the Year Terrence Romeo were pestered by the Ateneo defense all night long and finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The rest of the Tamaraws, however, sank only 10 field goals among themselves.
To make matters worse, the Blue Eagles had 18 assists while FEU had a pathetic nine.
Ateneo tries to close out the series on Thursday, September 30 before another overflow crowd at the Araneta Coliseum.
The scores:
Ateneo (72) – Long 14, Chua 13, Salva 10, Monfort 9, Austria 8, Salamat 8, Erram 4, Gonzaga 2, Golla 2, Buenafe 2, Tiongson 0, Dela Cruz 0

FEU (49) – Garcia 11, Romeo 10, Cervantes 7, Noundou 6, Ramos 6, Cawaling 3, Exciminiano 2, Cruz 2, Bringas 2, Guerrero 0, Mendoza 0, Knuttel 0, Sanga 0
Quarterscores: 26 – 8; 42 – 21; 60 – 38; 72 – 49
Photos by Jerome Ascano/NPPA Images and Jan Dizon. 

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Eagles overpower Archers, 74-57


Games Thursday (Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. — Adamson vs UP
4 p.m. — UE vs Ateneo

This time, there was no wild finish but only a sweet win for Ateneo.

Showing their mighty form right from the very start, the Ateneo Eagles dominated the La Salle Archers to win in runaway fashion, 74-57, and inch closer to a semis berth in the UAAP basketball tournament Sunday before huge Sunday crowd at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Eagles took an 18-11 first quarter lead before humming like a well-oiled machine that saw them outscore their bitter rivals, 21-10, in the second quarter which turned out to be the push they needed to finally disarm the Archers.

With 15,362 screaming fans on hand, Kirk Long stood out in a long list of Ateneo heroes as he banged a career-high 22 points, the bulk of which coming in the second quarter that set the tone for a breezy win.

The win – their sixth straight and eight overall in 10 starts – enabled the Eagles to inch closer to the Final Four.

Meantime, University of the Philippines threw another golden chance of nailing its first-ever win this season when Dionisio Hipolito bungled his two free throws with barely 2.4 ticks left that allowed National University to escape with a 61-59 win in the first game.

Behind by only one point, 60-59, Hipolito went into the free throw area off Mervin Baloran’s foul. But to the horror of UP bench, he missed both his charities.

UP, however, plans to lodge a protest due to several no-calls.

Ateneo coach Norman Black was ecstatic over their revenge but he was still hoping to snatch the top spot from Far Eastern University at the end of the two-round elims. The Tamaraws is leading the tournament with a 9-1 card.

Long was simply hot, making all but one of his five tries from the rainbow territory that helped energize his teammates. He also had three rebounds, two assists and two steals as he made major damage mostly in the first half when Ateneo rolled to a commanding 39-21 halftime lead.

The part-time varsity baseball player also came up with a triple plus a steal and a layup on successive plays to push the Eagles’ lead to a high of 26 points, 55-39, with 4:27 in the third period.

The Archers, who beat the Eagles, 66-63, in the first round, raced to a 9-4 lead on a triple by Joel Tolentino but the Eagles refused to be intimidated as they made their own run to finally dictate the tempo of the game.

“I don’t know what happened. It was like a nightmare,” rued La Salle coach Dindo Pumaren. “We had a bad start and we didn’t play La Salle basketball.”

The scores:

First Game

NU 61 — Mbe 21, Hermosisima 14, Ponferrada 8, Baloran 6, Khobuntin 3, Javillonar 3, Terso 3, Malanday 3, Ludovice 0, Javelona 0, Ignacio 0, Eriobu 0, Tungcul 0, Singh 0, Magat 0.

UP 59 — Silungan 17, Padilla 13, Sison 8, Reyes Ma. 6, Hipolito 6, Juruena 4, Reyes Mi. 3, Gomez 2, Saret 0, Pascual 0, Maniego 0.

Quarters: 11-15; 20-28; 44-42; 61-59.

Second Game

ATENEO 74 — Long 22, dela Cruz 10, Buenafe 9, Salva 7, Monfort 7, Salamat 6, Golla 6, Austria 3, Escueta 2, Chua 2, Erram 0, Tiongson 0.

LA SA LLE 57 — Mendoza 20, Villanueva 7, Andrada 6, Tampus 5, Tolentino 5, Atkins 5, Marata 4, de la Paz 3, Webb 2, Vosotros 0, Paredes 0, Elorde 0, Ferdinand 0, Banal 0.

Quarters: 18-11; 39-21; 61-40; 74-57.

Ateneo rebounds, clips NU

By Alder T. Almo |

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles overcame a jittery start to get back in the winning track as they trounced the National University (NU) Bulldogs, 82-65, on Saturday in the UAAP Season 73 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.

Ateneo, which was coming off a heartbreaking 63-66 loss to arch rival La Salle, started slow and allowed NU to vault to a 28-14 lead before getting their act together.

The Eagles settled down and adjusted their defense as Eric Salamat hit 8 of his game-high 20 pts in the 2nd period where Ateneo erased a huge deficit and came within 33-34 at the break.

The game was tied at 37-all at the onset of the 3rd period before the Eagles eventually seized control of the ballgame when Salamat, Kirk Long and Art dela Cruz Jr. came up with big plays to give Ateneo a 61-48 spread.

By the time Long made an undergoal stab at the 6:54 mark of the payoff period, the Bulldogs did not know what hit them and continued to play in disarray.

The Eagles took advantage of this and buried the Bulldgos deeper, 69-54.

“All we talked about was our defense (during halftime). We’re having trouble against them off the dribble so we adjusted our defense. I told the boys to just keep on shooting (against their zone) because those shots will fall eventually,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black, who has yet to lose consecutive games with the Eagles since the 2006 Finals against UST.

Salamat spiced up his best game of the season with 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals while Long came through with also a season-high 19 points built around his 4-of-4 three-point clip.

The defending champions improved to 3-2 tying idle UST in the team standings.

NU, which absorbed its third setback against 2 wins, drew 18 points from Kokoy Hermosisima while Cameroonian Emmanuel Mbe got away with 11 points and 12 rebounds with the bulk of his production coming when the game was already beyond reach.

The Scores:

ADMU 82 – Salamat 20, Long 19, Salva 14, Dela Cruz 6, Golla 6, Tiongson 5, Monfort 5, Gonzaga 3, Escueta 2, Buenafe 2, Erram 0, Chua 0, Austria 0.

NU 65 – Hermosisima 18, Malanday 12, Mbe 11, Khobuntin 7, Terso 5, Magat 4, Javillonar 3, Ponferrada 3, Tungcul 2, Ludovice 0, Singh 0, Baloran 0.

Quarterscores: 11-17, 33-34, 61-48, 82-65.