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Eagles dismember Warriors, keep lead

Ateneo Blue Eagles’ Aaron Black tries to stop the shot of UE Red Warriors’ Chris Conner during their match in the UAAP basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena. MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

MANILA, Philippines — High-flying Ateneo booked a routine 83-65 rout of winless University of the East to stretch its streak to four and firm up its hold of the lead in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament at the MOA Arena yesterday.

The Eagles got the job done with their usual efficient plays, especially in the last 10 minutes where they pulled away for good.

“UE’s a tough team and players shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking they’re a 0-3 team. In the third quarter, we gave up 29 points to them. We knew they’re a tough team and they put a lot of effort on everything,” said AdMU assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.

“We had the lead but we couldn’t really say we had control of the game because UE kept getting the score within distance. It’s a good thing our players responded, especially putting the clamps down on UE in the fourth quarter. We played well defensively and at same time we played efficient offense in the fourth,” Arespacochaga added.

As the Warriors threatened to within six early in the final quarter, the Eagles restored order with a counter-attack led by Mike Nieto and Thirdy Ravena for a fresh 77-60 upperhand, 3:25 left. The Eagles held the Warriors down to 13 in the payoff period to finish off their opponents from Recto, who slipped to their fourth straight loss.

Ravena banged in 11 in the fourth for a team-high 21 laced with eight rebounds and two assists. Matt Nieto (11), Aaron Black (10), and Mike Nieto (10) also turned in double-digit production in another balanced attack for the Katipunan-based side.

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It was the fourth consecutive blowout for AdMU following convincing dispatching of Adamson (85-65), UP (92-71), and FEU (94-82).

“We’re not really looking at the outcome in terms of points (winning margin). We’re just looking at the game in detail at how we play and perform. If we win big, thank you, but the most important things we want to see from our team is consistency. Hopefully, wins will come, whether by two points or by a big margin,” said Arespacochaga.

Adamson got back on its winning ways with an 83-76 disposal of National U in the second game.

Papi Sarr (19), Jerrick Ahanmisi (13), Jonathan Espeleta (13), and Jerie Pingoy (12) each came through with season-high scores to help the Falcons rebound from their 73-85 setback to La Salle four days ago and improve to an even 2-2.

They caught up with the Bulldogs and idle Far Eastern in a three-way tie at fourth.

“We learned from our mistakes already and we played smarter basketball than we played last game,” said AdU coach Franz Pumaren.

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