Blue Eagles lock in top seed; Falcons, Archers forge playoff for last semis spot

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
Blue Eagles lock in top seed; Falcons, Archers forge playoff for last semis spot
Kai Ballungay

MANILA, Philippines — The Ateneo Blue Eagles clinched the top seed heading into the Final Four in UAAP Season 85 following a 66-61 win over the Adamson Soaring Falcons at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.

Due to a superior quotient against rivals UP, the Blue Eagles will enter the semifinals as the No. 1 team with their 11-3 slate.

Meanwhile, Adamson, which is tied with the DLSU Green Archers at 7-7, will play a knockoff contest for the last spot in the semifinals.

This is the fifth straight season that Ateneo will enter the Final Four as the top seed.

After squandering a lead as big as 15 points, Ange Kouame converted on a clutch basket to push Ateneo's lead to three, 64-61, with 35.3 ticks left in the game.

Kouame missing the bonus free throw kept the door ajar for the Soaring Falcons, but misses by Joaquin Jaymalin and Joem Sabandal in the next possession doomed the Falcons.

BJ Andrade iced the game with two clutch makes from the charity stripe.

Kai Ballungay provided a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds to steer Ateneo to victory. Andrade added 13 markers while Kouame provided 12 points, 12 boards and three steals.

AP Manlapaz, who led Adamson in the upset effort, finished with 22 points in 16 minutes on 9-of-13 shooting.

Ateneo thus waits for the winner of the playoff between La Salle and Adamson on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

"It's the Final 4 already and we can't get too caught up in the, we're No. 1. We all know that entering the final 4, it's a whole new ball game." said Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga after the game.

"We're gonna make sure that we don't relax or let our guard down. We're gonna be ready whoever wins between Adamson and La Salle." he added.

Meanwhile, defending champion UP,  the No. 2 seed, will face the NU Bulldogs armed with a twice-to-beat advantage.

The Scores:

ATENEO 66 -- Ballungay 18, Andrade 13, Kouame 12, Koon 7, Padrigao 6, Ildefonso 3, Gomez 3, Chiu 2, Lazaro 2, Garcia 0, Quitevis 0, Daves 0.
ADAMSON 61 -- Manlapaz 22, Lastimosa 10, Douanga 7, Hanapi 5, Flowers 5, Manzano 4, Yerro 4, Sabandal 2, V. Magbuhos 2, Colonia 0, Jaymalin 0, Barasi 0, Fuentebella 0, Barcelona 0, Torres 0, W. Magbuhos 0.

Quarters: 17-16, 33-27, 49-41, 66-61.



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