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Blue Eagles escape growling winless Tigers

League-leading Ateneo got pushed to the limit by a hard-fighting University of Santo Tomas side but did just enough at endgame to notch its fifth straight victory, 94-84, in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Contributed Photo

MANILA, Philippines — Slightly different route, same result.

League-leading Ateneo got pushed to the limit by a hard-fighting University of Santo Tomas side but did just enough at endgame to notch its fifth straight victory, 94-84, in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament last 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 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 win 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.

Earlier, Far Eastern U turned back National U, 90-83, to take solo fourth at 3-2.

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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.

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