Ateneo, La Salle, UP gain as NU stumbles

John Bryan Ulanday - The Philippine Star
Ateneo, La Salle, UP gain as NU stumbles
Dave Ildefonso

MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo soared to the Final Four even as La Salle beefed up its own bid for the last semis slot in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Blue Eagles eliminated the University of the East Warriors in overtime, 69-66, and booked the third semis ticket as the streaking Green Archers picked up their third straight win at the expense of erstwhile No. 2 National U, 63-58.

These results catapulted Ateneo to solo second at 9-3, boosting its Top 2 drive as NU lost steam and slid to third at 9-4. La Salle firmed up its grip on fourth spot at 6-6.

UP also benefited from NU’s defeat, with the Maroons securing a twice-to-beat incentive in the Final Four as the roller coaster elimination round heads into its last two playdates.

Kai Ballungay (14) and Ange Kouame (12) turned in solid numbers as Dave Ildefonso added 12 markers and 14 rebounds including the game-tying trey in the last 43 seconds of regulation to force an extra time, where Ateneo proved as the steadier team.

“It’s really an important win right now given the landscape of the team standings. We’re really happy with the win but (credit) to UE and coach Jack Santiago, they were there and controlled the (majority) of the game,” said coach Tab Baldwin.

La Salle also came through with a big win.

Penny Estacio led the way after scoring all his 13 points in the game-changing third quarter on top of two rebounds and two steals.

Evan Nelle added 10 while Michael Phillips hauled down nine markers and 11 boards for the Green Archers, who welcomed back MVP frontrunner Schonny Winston (calf) in a brief action.

“It was a pretty hard-earned victory for us. We needed this win kasi we’re aiming to be in the Final Four. We’re happy that the Lady Archers stopped the winning streak of Lady Bulldogs but we gotta do our job. We gotta do our part,” said coach Derrick Pumaren.

Earlier, University of the Philippines bounced back with a 78-60 win over also-ran Santo Tomas behind Carl Tamayo’s 19 points and nine rebounds after bowing to La Salle over the weekend.

Santo Tomas absorbed its 11th straight loss at 1-11 as UE crashed out of contention at 4-9 despite a gallant stand against no less than the former three-time champion Ateneo.


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