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Eagles repel Tigers; Tams seize solo 4th

MANILA, Philippines -- League-leading Ateneo got pushed to the limit by a hard-fighting Santo Tomas but did just enough in the endgame to notch their fifth straight victory, 94-84, in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tourney Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Eagles stormed to a 22-point margin but unlike in their previous blowout wins, they couldn’t shake off the pesky Tigers right away and had to come through with a late surge to secure their hardest-earned win of the season.

“We’re happy we won the game but at the same time, not taking anything away from UST which played a good game, we’re not happy with our performance,” said AdMU assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.

Ateneo seemed headed for another runaway W when it went up, 69-47, at the 7:21 mark of the third. But the resilient Tigers ended the quarter strong to get to within 76-71. The Tigers managed to close in at 81-80 on a triple by Marvin Lee in the final canto but the Eagles proved to be steadier going to the finish with Anton Asistio, Thirdy Ravena and Matt Nieto conspiring in a 13-3 salvo to end the match.

“We’re not happy we gave up 23 points in the first, 20 in the second and 28 in the third. We limited them to 13 in the fourth, maybe that’s why we came up with a win,” said Arespacochaga.

The Tigers gave Ateneo its toughest challenge yet this season but nonetheless fell to 0-5, their worst start in a decade.

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“I guess there was a letdown on our end, and at the same time you could see the sense of urgency from UST, they picked it up and we took a step back,”Arespacpchaga said.

Nieto finished with a career-best 22 highlighted by a four-of-six clip from the three-point area as  Isaac Go added 13 and four rebounds and Ravena submitted a double-double of 12 markers and 11 boards plus five assists.

Lee (22) and Jordan Sta. Ana (21) took scoring cudgels for UST.

In the first game, Far Eastern U turned back National U, 90-83, to take solo fourth at 3-2.

Arvin Tolentino fired a career-high 23 points spiked by three triples while Axel Inigo and Barkley Ebona chipped in 12 and 10, respectively, as the Tams got back-to-back wins for the first time after a blow-hot, blow-cold start.

“Compared to our past games, we played more consistently. We didn’t start slow and then we sustained it for 40 minutes,” said FEU coach Olsen Racela.

As opposed to their flat opening in their preceding 78-65 win over UST, FEU hit the ground running and took a 22-15 lead against NU and never relinquished control.

“As a team, we focused more on the defensive end. In our first three games we gave up so many points and I told the boys, NU is the number one offensive team coming to this game and I think limiting them to 83 is quite an achievement,” said Racela.

Jayjay Alejandro topscored anew for NU with 23.

The Scores:

First Game

FEU 90 – Tolentino 23, Inigo 12, Ebona 10, Comboy 9, Parker 9, Tuffin 7 Dennison 6, Orizu 6, Cani 5, Escoto 3, Ramirez 0.

NU 83 – Alejandro 23, Aquino 13, Gaye 8, Morido 7, Yu 7, Mosqueda 6, Salem 6, Bartlett 4, Lastimosa 3, Joson 2, Abatayo 2, Rangel 2, Diputado 0, Cauilan 0, Tibayan 0, Flores 0.

Quarterscores: 22-15, 48-41, 76-68, 90-83.

Second Game

AdMU 94 – Ma.Nieto 22, Go 13, Ravena 12, Mamuyac 8, Asistio 7, Ikeh 7, Mi. Nieto 6, Tolentino 5, Verano 4, Mallillin 3, Tio 3, Black 2, Mendoza 2, Porter 0.

UST 84 – Lee 22, Sta. Ana 21, Romero 3, Faundo 6, Escalambre 6, Akomo 6, Basibas 4, Huang 4, Garcia 4, Soriano 3, de Guzman 2, Kwawukumey 0, Arana 0.

Quarterscores: 29-23, 55-43, 76-71, 94-84.

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