Ateneo de Manila University pulled off an impressive comeback to demoralize Far Eastern University 71-65 to keep in pace with the top two teams in the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
With the win, Ateneo extended its winning streak to three games and improved to an 8-3 record. The Katipunan school is also assured a playoff for the Final Four.
“That win was just heart and some decent execution in the fourth quarter,” said Blue Eagles mentor Tab Baldwin. “Up until then, we were pretty bad really in most aspects of the game.”
Down by as much as 20-39 at the 2:39 mark of the second quarter thanks to a Xyrus Torres three, the Blue Eagles executed a blistering rally that was capped off by a Paul Garcia three to lead 56-55 at the 8:34 mark of the final period.
The Tamaraws then were able to level the ballgame off an L-Jay Gonzales basket at 65-65 with 1:22 remaining in the contest. Angelo Kouame then converted two free throws to give Ateneo the lead at 67-65 with 1:03 to go.
FEU then failed to convert in three straight possessions, which allowed Forthsky Padrigao and Dave Ildefonso to sink four unanswered charities to seal the win.
Kouame led Ateneo with 20 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, and one block. Padrigao followed with 13 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Ildefonso had eight points, nine rebounds, and two assists as well.
The Blue Eagles’ bench mob was hugely productive with 16 points compared to the Tamaraws’ five. Ateneo also had 14 second-chance points against FEU’s seven.
“I feel very blessed and I thank the Lord that we got the win in the end,” added Baldwin. “That takes us a little bit closer to where we want to go.”
On the other hand, FEU fell to a 4-8 record behind three consecutive defeats.
Torres led the Tamaraws with 19 points behind 5-of-15 shooting from the three-point line followed by Gonzales’ 15 points, four rebounds, and two assists.
Patrick Sleat had 10 points and six assists while Patrick Tchuente contributed 13 rebounds along with eight points.
Both schools will return to action on Wednesday at the same venue.
Ateneo will go up against University of the East at 4:30 PM while FEU shall face Adamson University at 6:30 PM.
Ateneo (71) – Kouame 20, Padrigao 13, Andrade 9, Ildefonso 8, Garcia 8, Ballungay 5, Koon 4, Lazaro 2, Daves 2, Chiu 0, Quitevis 0.
FEU (65) – Torres 19, Gonzales 15, Sleat 10, Tchuente 8, Anonuevo 8, Bagunu 3, Bautista 2, Alforque 0, Sajonia 0, Sandagon 0, Tempra 0.
Quarterscores: 14-21, 27-41, 49-54, 71-65.