Even chaos could not deter the disciplined Blue Eagles
Behind excellent outings from Chibueze Ikeh and Vince Tolentino, the league-leading Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles displayed control against the National University Bulldogs to take a 96-83 win, Saturday evening at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
This is Ateneo’s sixth straight win in as many games to retain pole position, while NU dropped their third straight game to fall to 2-4.
Nigerian student-athlete Ikeh paced the Blue Eagles this time around, tying his career-high with 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds and two swats. More than the points, the graduating big man helped break down the various forms of zone defense Jamike Jarin implemented by stretching the floor after knocking down a career-high two triples.
In addition to Ikeh, fellow graduating senior Vince Tolentino picked up his personal high of 15 points in the contest, going 7-for-9 from the field as well.
“It’s good that the two are here because they have been doing the dirty work for us, not just scoring,” remarked Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga. “They have been very valuable for us especially in controlling rebounds and playing defense.”
And Ateneo needed all the effort the two seniors could muster, as J-Jay Alejandro was blistering during the first three quarters of the contest.
“NU’s a tough team, we knew that coming in. We played their pace, an up and down game. Good thing that in the fourth quarter, we played with better defense,” said Arespacochaga, as Alejandro helped NU knot things up at 51-all with 5:47 left in the third frame.
Needing to stop Alejandro, the Blue Eagles called on rookie Gian Mamuyac to try and lock down the NU senior.
“Gian Mamuyac played a big role for us in the fourth quarter. He was not supposed to play today but he was able to play good defense in the fourth quarter,” shared Arespacochaga, as Mamuyac helped limit Alejandro to just three points in the final frame after scoring 21 during the first three quarters.
With Alejandro out of the picture, the Blue Eagles were able to implement their offense, leading by as high as 14 points, 92-78, after free throws from Anton Asistio with 1:40 remaining in the game.
The Nieto twins also had a hand in the win, chipping in 12 points each on an identical 4-for-8 shooting clip.
Enzo Joson and Issa Gaye finished with 14 points apiece for NU, but the Bulldogs were limited to a combined 41 percent shooting from the field. Moreover, the Blue Eagles out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 49-39.
Ateneo will have an eight-day break before facing archrivals De La Salle University Green Archers on Sunday, October 8, at 4:00pm. NU, on the other hand, look to snap out of their skid on the same day when they take on the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons on the same day at 12:00nn. Both games will be played at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
ADMU (96) – Ikeh 18, Tolentino 15, Nieto Ma. 12, Nieto Mi. 12, Verano 9, Ravena 8, Asistio 7, Go 4, Black 4, Mendoza 3, White 2, Mamuyac 1, Mallillin 1, Andrade 0, Tio 0.
NU (83) – Alejandro 24, Joson 14, Gaye 14, Rangel 7, Mosqueda 6, Bartlett 4, Morido 4, Yu 4, Salem 3, Tibayan 3, Aquino 0, Diputado 0, Abatayo 0, Cauilan 0.
Quarterscores: 21-25, 47-43, 71-65, 96-83