The Ateneo Blue Eagles will enter the Final Four on a six game winning streak.
Behind key contributions from Thirdy Ravena and Isaac Go in the final frame, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles secured the second seed in the UAAP Season 79 Men’s Basketball Final Four after a huge 73-67 come-from-behind win over the young Adamson University Soaring Falcons, Wednesday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“It’s a tough game, tough win for us. Hard-earned win,” said an exhausted Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
The second-ranked Blue Eagles (10-4) will take on the Far Eastern University Tamaraws (9-5) in the semifinals, while the league-leading De La Salle University Green Archers (13-1) face the Adamson Falcons (8-6) in the other bracket.
Ravena had an all-around game with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists. The third-year swing man also exposed the inexperience of the Soaring Falcons in the final frame.
At a disadvantage entering the final frame, the Blue Eagles scored eight unanswered points coming from free throws by Raffy Verano and Isaac Go, and buckets by Mike Nieto and Chibueze Ikeh, to gain a 62-55 lead with 5:49 remaining.
Rookie Robbie Manalang and sophomore JD Tungcab tried to will their team back, but the Blue Eagles’ suffocating defense forced them into outside shots. Back-to-back finds by Ravena to Go helped Ateneo extend their lead to nine points, 68-59, with 2:02 left.
“It became a defensive game. We had to grind it out,” the assistant coach shared.
Mike Nieto and Adrian Wong, who sprained his right ankle with three minutes left, added 12 markers each. Go finished the game with nine points and eight rebounds.
Adamson led by as much as nine points in the opening quarter behind Papi Sarr and Jerrick Ahanmisi.
“I’m happy our players stayed focused despite the very good performance of Adamson. It wasn’t really a beautiful game in terms of our field goal percentage,” Arespacochaga remarked about the 33 percent shooting clip of his team.
Ateneo out-rebounded Adamson 51 to 45 that led to a 13 to 10 advantage in second chance points. Moreover, Ateneo forced Adamson to 16 turnovers that led to 15 points.
Papi Sarr paced Adamson with 17 points and 23 rebounds. Tungcab notched a season-high in the loss with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
ADMU (73) – Ravena 14, Nieto Mi. 12, Wong 12, Go 9, Nieto Ma. 7, Verano 6, Black 5, Ikeh 4, Tolentino 3, Asistio 1, Porter 0.
ADU (67) – Sarr 17, Tungcab 16, Manalang 12, Ahanmisi 7, Espeleta 7, Manganti 7, Camacho 1, Ochea 0, Mustre 0, Bernardo 0, Paranada 0, Chua 0, Ng 0.
Quarterscores: 15-17, 28-33, 52-53, 73-67.