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Eagles stun Maroons


‘Obviously, very delighted with the win. It was real character game for us. UP is a great team and they played great.’


Ateneo de Manila University head coach Tab Baldwin didn’t want to treat the end of first round game against University of the Philippines as a rematch of last year’s finals.

But it did feel like one.

The defending champions Blue Eagles needed extra minutes to turn back the erstwhile unbeaten Fighting Maroons, 99-89, in overtime for their first taste of consecutive victories in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 men’s basketball tournament Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Ateneo collected its fourth win in seven games tied with De La Salle University at third to fourth spot.

Mason Amos rose to the occasion, hitting pressure-packed baskets including a trey in Ateneo’s decisive 7-0 run that broke an 85-85 tie for a seven-point lead with 1:27 left in the extension of the match that had a finals atmosphere.

“Obviously, very delighted with the win. It was real character game for us. UP is a great team and they played great,” said Baldwin, who breathed a sigh of relief after pulling through in OT after losing the first two extended games they had against Adamson University and Far Eastern University.

Amos finished with 19 points and pulled 10 rebounds to lead Ateneo.

Chris Koon chipped in 17, Joseph Obasa had 13 and held his own against UP’s main center reigning Most Valuable Player Malick Diouf, while Kai Ballungay produced a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards for the Blue Eagles.

Ateneo looked poised at capping the day in regulation after building a 78-68 lead with 7:13 left only to see UP spark a 12-2 run with CJ Cansino and Francis Lopez stringing up five straight points each before Reyland Torres scored a basket to tie the game at 80 with 1:03 remaining.

Both sides failed to score in their next couple of possessions as time expired.

The Fighting Maroons remained on top but are now in a share of the summit with National University.

Cansino had 22 points and six rebounds, Diouf had 13 points and 11 rebounds while Gerry Abadiano added 12 for UP, which is likely to face Ateneo to start the second round on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, University of Santo Tomas arrested a 19-game losing skid dating back from last season with a morale-boosting 68-62 victory over a stunned Far Eastern University in the first game.

Nic Cabanero erupted for 23 points including an insurance split from the foul line with 10.3 seconds left as the Tigers ended the first round with a 1-6 slate and gave head coach Pido Jarencio his first win since his return this season.

“First of all, thank you God for giving us this win. I’m thankful also to our supporters, the UST community, our coaches, teammates, and staff and the management for continuously lifting our hearts so that we can still show our mantra of ‘Puso, pride, palaban,’” Cabanero, who shot 9-of-16 from the field and grabbed six rebounds, said.

UST tasted its first win after beating Adamson University, 66-60, to open Season 85 last 1 October 2022.

Cabanero scored 11 of his points in the third quarter including a completed three-point play with 0.6 seconds left in the frame for a 55-50 Tigers lead.

UST’s stingy defense kept FEU without a field goal for over five minutes while blasting a 10-4 barrage capped by Migs Pangilinan trey for a 65-54 advantage with 5:30 left.

The Tamaraws fought back to cut their deficit to six but Paul Manalang answered with a layup with 1:01 left. Jorick Bautista drilled a triple for FEU’s last hurrah with under a minute left before Cabanero’s insurance charity.

Christian Manaytay had 10 points and 11 rebounds, Pangilinan had nine points while Angelo Crisostomo got eight points.

The Tamaraws saw their two-game win run snapped to close the round at sixth to seventh with a 2-5 mark tied with University of the East.

LJ Gonzales, Xyrus Torres and Bautista all had 11 points apiece in a lost cause for FEU.


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