A new champion will emerge in the World University Basketball Series.
During the semifinals of the eight-school tournament, defending champion Ateneo de Manila University struggled to gain momentum in the second half, resulting in a surprising 58-73 loss to Hakuoh University on Saturday at the National Yoyogi Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.
The first three quarters of the game were closely contested, with the Soldiers leading the Blue Eagles 35-33.
In the third quarter, both teams combined for just 15 points, and the defending UAAP champions only managed to score seven points.
However, Ateneo’s struggles persisted in the final quarter, while Hakuoh found its touch. This proved to be a detrimental combination for the Philippine side.
After a basket by Josh Lazaro cut the Soldiers’ lead to 47-45 with 7:39 left in the game, Ken Pogue responded with a significant three-pointer, sparking a 9-0 run for Hakuoh.
Although Jared Brown attempted to halt the momentum with a three-pointer, it was evident that the tide had shifted in favor of the Soldiers.
Hakuoh’s big man, Joel Monga, dominated against Geo Chiu and Joseph Obasa in the latter stages of the game, leading to both Ateneo big men fouling out.
Ateneo was unable to narrow the gap further and conclude the game on a strong note.
Ballungay led Ateneo with nine points, five rebounds, and a steal.
Gab Gomez also got nine points while Obasa and Chris Koon chipped in eight markers each with Obasa also grabbing five boards.
As the defending champions of the tournament, the Blue Eagles will face Radford University in the bronze medal match.
In the other semifinal matchup, Radford suffered a 79-75 loss to National Chengchi University.
Masahiro Waki led Hakuoh with 15 points.