Defending champion Ateneo de Manila University made sure that Adamson University wouldn’t pull off a shocking game-winner this time.
Sophomore Joseph Obasa was at the right place at the right time catching down a crucial offensive rebound that led to the game-sealing free throws in the Blue Eagles’ 62-58 win to stay in the hunt for the last University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 men’s basketball tournament Final Four seat yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ateneo showed great defensive effort in the fourth period after a terrible four-point third quarter production to rack up its second straight win that propelled the squad to solo fourth spot with an even 6-6 win-loss record.
Trailing by seven, 42-49, after three quarters, the Blue Eagles outscored the Falcons 20-9 in the payoff period with eight coming from the foul line including the last three points of the game that iced their revenge over their first-round tormentor.
Obasa grabbed the crucial rebound off a loose ball after Sean Quitevis missed his second free throw while already sitting under the basket with 3.3 seconds left.
The one-and-done Nigerian big man calmly sank both his charities for a 62-58 lead.
“Well I mean, this is as tough as it gets. We expect that’s the Adamson team, that’s the Adamson coaching staff. They just grind you down. And they’re doing it to everybody. They battle. It’s never easy against them,” Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin said.
“So I just want to congratulate Nash (Racela) and the team and the staff of the Falcons for a really, really tough game.”
Quitevis finished with 12 points and eight rebounds to lead the Blue Eagles while Obasa got 10 points, eight boards and four blocks.
Kai Ballungay also chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds for Ateneo, which needs to sweep its last two games against University of the East and De La Salle University to avoid missing the semis cut for the first time in 10 years.
The Blue Eagles blasted a 17-6 barrage to take a 59-55 lead with 3:16 left in the fourth. Ateneo took advantage of Adamson’s early penalty situation with just three minutes in the fourth quarter.
Matt Erolon nailed a triple as the Falcons breathed down Ateneo’s neck, 58-59, with 1:23 left. Adamson had a couple of chances to take the lead after Blue Eagles forward Chris Koon missed two foul shots but came out empty-handed.
Didap Hanapi missed his fadeaway jumper at the left side forcing the Falcons to put Quitevis on the line.
Meanwhile, Most Valuable Player frontrunner Kevin Quiambao submitted another triple-double to power De La Salle University to an 86-76 win over University of the East.
The sophomore forward filled the stats sheet with 17 points, 19 rebounds, 12 assists, four steals and two blocks in the Green Archers’ sixth straight win for a 9-3 slate. It was Quiambao’s second triple-double of the season, making him the first to do so in the Final Four era.