Bullpups, Eaglets set livewire finale
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - February 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Top seed National U and No. 2 defending champion Ateneo lived up to their lofty billings as they waylaid their respective Final Four opponents to set up a livewire clash for the UAAP Season 81 juniors’ basketball crown.

The Bullpups rode on the 30-point, seven-triple explosion of Terrence Fortea to finish off fourth-ranked Adamson, 94-72, and advance to the championship series for the eighth consecutive season.

The Blue Eaglets took care of business by holding off No. 3 Far Eastern-Diliman, 90-82.

NU and AdMU begin the latest of their now-regular finals showdown on Monday.

Fortea lit up the Filoil Flying V Center and sank seven booming treys to finish with his career-high 30 in just 26 minutes off the bench, highlighting his torrid shooting with a spectacular step-back long bomb to beat the half-time buzzer.

“He really played well,” said NU coach Goldwin Monteverde of Fortea, who also had two rebounds and the same number of assists. “Day in and day out, he always tries his best, plays his best.”

Cyril Gonzales and Gerry Abadiano backstopped Fortea with 13 and 11, respectively in the game where NU raced to a 20-7 start and never looked back.

Meanwhile, soon-to-be-named MVP Kai Sotto banged in 22 points and eight rebounds and got needed support from Ian Espinosa (19 markers, four assists), Joaquin Jaymalin (17 spiked by a 5-for-5 three-point shooting clip) and Geo Chiu (11-11) as the Eaglets gave themselves a shot at extending their reign.

After a tied contest through 10 minutes, the Eaglets asserted their might and unleashed a 12-0 salvo to seize double-digit spreads that went as far as 21, then  fended off the Baby Tams’ late uprising to secure the finals-clinching victory.

Ron Tolentino led FEU with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

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