Ateneo's Matt Nieto credits Jones Cup stint for career performance in Game 1
Ateneo's Matt Nieto puts up a shot against James Tungcab of UP.
STAR/Joey Mendoza

Ateneo's Matt Nieto credits Jones Cup stint for career performance in Game 1

Cris Santos (Philstar.com) - December 1, 2018 - 8:34pm

MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo’s Matt Nieto was shocked to see UP dominating the crowd in Game One of the 81st UAAP men’s basketball tournament finals on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

But the Jones Cup experience helped him to put that disadvantage behind him and focused on the task at hand.

Nieto fired a career-high 27 points in leading the Blue Eagles to a hard-earned 88-79 win over the Fighting Maroons to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three championship series.

“Hindi biro ang UP. They’re a different team from the last round that we met them. Credit UP for playing hard and their crowd ang saya maglaro dahil ang dami nila,” said Nieto. 

“Ang mindset namin as a team paglabas ng MOA, nakita ko teammates ko tingin sila ng tingin sa surrounding sabi ko sa kanila, di ba naranasan na natin ito sa Taipei sa Jones Cup, we were overpowered by the Taiwanese when we went against them so this nothing new to us,” he added.

Nieto was referring to their Jones Cup duel with Taiwan’s national team last July where he delivered the game-winning triple for a 77-76 win.

It was the same scenario in Game One when UP fans and supporters outnumbered their counterparts.

“Yung crowd nila, ibang-iba sa La Salle-Ateneo game. Their crowd is bigger, noisier, wilder and yung crowd namin is the same. Di sila nawawalan pag-asa pero ang UP, intense kasi gusto nila manalo,” said Nieto.

He did not need another game-winner against UP but he hurt their finals opponent with timely baskets.

“I credit coach Tab (Baldwin) and my teammates for trusting me, I just want to win,” he added.

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