Tyler Tio’s third-quarter explosion proved to be the difference as defending champions Ateneo de Manila University overcame Far Eastern University, 79-70, to extend its winning streak to 28 matches, Tuesday afternoon in the UAAP Season 84 Men’s Basketball Tournament, at the closed-door SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Tyler Tio, who scored all of his 17 points in the third quarter, converted back-to-back threes to extend Ateneo’s advantage to 54-39 halfway through the period and extended it to as much as 63-42 with less than three minutes left in the third quarter.
The Tamaraws, though, flattered to provoke a comeback in the final period. A 9-0 run capped off by an Emman Ojoula basket from an RJ Abarrientos assist cut the Blue Eagles’ sizeable lead to 72-66 with four minutes to go.
“Really tough game,” said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin. “But you always get that with Olsen and his team. They’re just a tough organization and they don’t give anything away easily and that was the case again today.”
However, an injury scare to Abarrientos killed off FEU’s momentum as they missed their next baskets while Dave Ildefonso’s three and SJ Belangel’s drive gave Ateneo a 77-68 edge, which carried them across the line.
Beforehand, Ojoula ignited an 8-0 run early in the game, which evaporated quickly as a 16-7 stretch capped off by rookie Josh Lazaro’s basket gave Ateneo a 16-15 lead. The Blue Eagles then started to impose themselves in the second quarter as Raffy Verano provided a 36-26 cushion with 2:25 to go before the break.
“We have some principles that we believe in that we think add up to winning basketball games and we’re just not achieving those things” added Baldwin. “A lot of room for improvement in our team. A lot of room for improvement in execution. A lot of room for improvement in terms of understanding what those principles are and having some integrity to those principles instead of just talking about them.”
Behind Tio’s eruption, Ateneo had 31 bench points over FEU’s 16. In contrast, The Tamaraws had 10 fastbreak points and 38 points in the paint compared to the Blue Eagles’ 2 and 28.
Tio and Ildefonso led the Blue Eagles with 17 points each. Gilas center Ange Kouame had nine points and 11 rebounds and BJ Andrade had nine points. SJ Belangel contributed seven points and six assists.
On the other hand, Abarrientos led the Tamaraws with 16 points, five rebounds, and three assists followed by Emmanuel Ojoula’s 15 points and 17 rebounds. Royce Alforque had 12 points and seven assists as well for the FEU cause.
Both teams shall next play this Thursday at the SM MOA Arena. Ateneo (2-0) takes on Adamson University at 10:00 AM while FEU (1-1) goes up against hosts De La Salle University at 1:00 PM.
ADMU 79 – Ildefonso 17, Tio 17, Andrade 9, Kouame 9, Belangel 7, Verano 6, Mamuyac 5, Koon 4, Mendoza 3, Lazaro 2, Chiu 0, Daves 0.
FEU 70 – Abarrientos 16, Ojoula 15, Alforque 12, Torres 8, Tempra 8, Gonzales 4, Bienes 3, Gravera 2, Li 2, Sajonia 0, Coquia 0, Sleat 0.
Quarterscores: 18-17, 42-32, 67-51, 79-70.
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