Defending champions Ateneo de Manila University bucked a slow start, then survived a late-game hijack attempt by the Adamson University Soaring Falcons to take an 80-74 squeaker, in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Wednesday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles raised their slate to 9-0, extending their streak to 19 straight wins. The last time Ateneo tasted defeat in the UAAP was back in October 10, 2018 — a 60-63 loss to FEU.
Ateneo had four players score in double-digits with Thirdy Ravena leading the way with 23 points. Ravena is the first Blue Eagle to reach 20 points this season.
Will Navarro also did his damage with 11 points, eight boards, and four blocks. Matt Nieto added 11 points and five assists, while Matthew Daves scored a career-high 10 points and six rebounds for Ateneo.
The win didn’t come easy, though, with Adamson keeping themselves in step in the first half.
“We really survived Adamson in the end,” said coach Tab Baldwin. “We made a lot of bonehead plays. There’s no excuse for that — we have to practice those kinds of situations. We didn’t perform well in that scenario in either end. We have to figure out how to be good in either situation.”
Leading by 15, 67-52, with 8:36 left, the Blue Eagles saw the Soaring Falcons trim the deficit down to three, 77-74, courtesy of a Joshua Yerro lay-up with 8.9 ticks remaining.
But Ateneo kept their composure, with Nieto and Adrian Wong canning their freebies to end the game.
It was a huge sigh of relief for the blue side after staring at a 37-34 halftime deficit.
“I think we were patchy in the first half,” said Baldwin as the Blue Eagles broke off from a 50-48 affair with a 13-2 stretch. They then grabbed a 63-50 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“But in the third quarter, we came out with some purpose.”
Valandre Chauca and Jerrick Ahanmisi both had 17 points in the losing cause for Adamson, who fell to their fourth straight loss and a 3-6 card.
Ateneo will next face arch-rivals DLSU Green Archers on Sunday, October 13 at 12:00nn. Meanwhile, Adamson look to snap their skid against the NU Bulldogs on Saturday, October 19 at 2:00pm.
ADMU 80 — Ravena 23, Navarro 11, Ma. Nieto 11, Daves 10, Go 7, Kouame 7, Mi. Nieto 7, Mamuyac 3, Wong 1, Belangel 0, Maagdenberg 0, Tio 0.
ADU 74 — Ahanmisi 17, Chauca 17, Douanga 13, Yerro 12, Camacho 6, Manlapaz 5, Lastimosa 4, Fermin 0, Flowers 0, Magbuhos 0, Mojica 0.
Quarterscores: 22-18, 34-37, 63-50, 80-74.