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Ateneo locks FEU down late to clinch Final Four spot

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Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Ateneo locks FEU down late to clinch Final Four spot ADMU Basketball FEU News UAAP  UAAP Season 80 Men's Basketball UAAP Season 80 Tab Baldwin Ron Dennison Raffy Verano Olsen Racela Matt Nieto FEU Men's Basketball Ateneo Men's Basketball Arvin Tolentino

Once again, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles faced a deficit. And once again, they were able to stick to the system and find a way.

The league-leaders bucked their ugliest start to a game, battling back against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 70-59, to clinch the first ticket to the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Basketball Final Four, Saturday evening.

The win extended Ateneo’s streak to 10 games while dropping FEU to 5-5, just half-a-game ahead of the University of the Philippines for fourth.

“They came into this game prepared,” Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga said about the Tamaraws. “We have to expect that every game that would be the case. It would not be easier for us.”

And it showed in this game, as the Tamaraws jumped on them in the opening quarter, taking a 14-4 lead to start the game.

“We didn’t start off on the right foot. We had a bad first quarter but we are quite happy with the final three quarters. We had some lapses defensively,” recalled Arespacochaga.

“Akala namin, kaya namin individually e. We just sticked to what led us here, walang iwanan and we won as a team,” added floor general Matt Nieto, who finished the game with 14 points, six rebounds, and two steals.

Behind Raffy Verano’s huge second quarter, the Blue Eagles were able to get their bearings back, keeping close with FEU. Still, Ateneo trailed FEU, 52-57 after an Arvin Tolentino layup to start the final frame.

The Blue Eagles, just like in their 85-72 win against the National University Bulldogs last Wednesday, zoned in in the final frame. Ateneo’s defense allowed no Tamaraw field goals for a good seven minutes, as the Blue Eagles went on a 15-2 run to take a 62-54 lead with 3:13 remaining.

The buckets during that run came from everyone, as six Blue Eagles joined the rally.

FEU were able to cut the lead to just five with 2:05 remaining, but a find by Isaac Go to a cutting Matt Nieto for an and-one sealed the win.

Verano finished with his season-high 14 points as well. Thirdy Ravena finished with six points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal, and a block. Aaron Black had six points and eight rebounds.

Ron Dennison paced the Tamaraws with 12 points but scored just two points in the final 20 minutes of the game. Arvin Tolentino added 11 points and 11 rebounds but shot just 33 percent from the field.

Ateneo look to extend their streak to 11 when they face the University of the East Red Warriors on Saturday, October 28, while FEU take on the UP Fighting Maroons on the same day.

The Scores:

ADMU 70 – Nieto Ma 14, Verano 14, Tolentino 7, Ravena 6, Black 6, Asistio 6, Ikeh 5, Go 5, Nieto Mi 4, Mamuyac 3, Mendoza 0, Tio 0, Andrade 0

FEU 59 – Dennison 12, Tolentino 11, Cani 10, Parker 7, Orizu 6, Escoto 5, Ebona 4, Inigo 4, Comboy 0, Tuffin 0, Ramirez 0, Stockton 0

Quarterscores: 12-21, 27-34, 47-50, 70-59

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