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HELLO, FINAL FOUR! — Ateneo rips Adamson, books semis duel vs UP

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF UAAP KAI Balunggay and the Ateneo Blue Eagles catch the bus headed for the Final Four following a 70-48 win over the Adamson Falcons in their playoff battle in Season 86 UAAP men’s basketball tournament.

Ateneo de Manila University formalized its return to the Final Four following a 70-48 win over Adamson University in their playoff match in Season 86 University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Jared Brown, Sean Quitevis and Mason Amos carried the load at the offensive end for the Blue Eagles, who made their ninth straight trip to the semifinals and kept their title hopes alive.

But the road to the Finals will not be easy.

The Blue Eagles will be facing Katipunan rival University of the Philippines, which will be armed with a twice-to-beat edge after finishing the double-round eliminations with a 12-2 record, while second seed De La Salle University will enjoy the playoff bonus against National University in the other semifinal pairing.

It was also a milestone of sorts for Ateneo mentor Tab Baldwin as he will make his sixth straight trip to the playoffs since taking over the coaching reign from current UP Office of Athletics and Sports Development chief Bo Perasol in 2016.

Baldwin, the former Gilas Pilipinas mentor, said the semis will be an uphill climb as they will be facing a well-rested Fighting Maroons squad that is itching to knock the crown off their heads.

The 65-year-old international tactician, however, stressed that careful preparation will be the key to bring down the powerhouse Fighting Maroons.

“It’s win or go home. It’s about preparation. We’re not just going to walk out there against a very strong UP team and we’ve been banged up right now,” Baldwin said.

“We’re kind of stumbling into the weekend but we will prepare and know we are up against a top team and we’re going to have to see if we can pull more rabbits out of our hats.”

Brown fired 20 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the three-point area while Quitevis had 11 markers and Amos submitted 10.

A rookie from Westmont College of California, Brown said he went all out against Adamson knowing that he has to bounce back from a sour 1-of-12 shooting in their 69-72 loss to La Salle last Saturday.

“I didn’t have a good shooting game last time. I needed to hit those shots and luckily they went in,” Brown, who conspired with Amos in erecting a massive 40-26 lead at halftime, said.

For Baldwin, it was all about making the right adjustments against an Adamson side determined to get the last spot in the Final Four as well.

“On the scoreboard, it didn’t look like a tough game but it was. We had some freedom in the first half, especially Jared shot the ball well and the team getting 40 points against Adamson in the first half is a good effort,” said Baldwin, whose squad grabbed 53 rebounds against Adamson’s 35 boards.

“We knew in the third quarter we’re going to have to be someone different and that was reflective of our defense and rebounding and that carried over in the fourth quarter. If you are successful in defending and rebounding the ball, generally good things happen.”

Matty Erolon led the way with nine points while Didat Hanapi chipped in eight points and four rebounds for Adamson, which gave star point guard Jerom Lastimosa a fitting farewell in his final game in the collegiate ranks.


The scores:

ATENEO (70) — Brown 20, Quitevis 11, Amos 10, Ballungay 7, Bongo 4, Obasa 4, Koon 3, Nieto 3, Credo 3, Espinosa 3, Lazaro 2, Chiu 0, Gamber 0, Tuano 0.

ADAMSON (48) — Erolon 9, Hanapi 8, Calisay 5, Manzano 4, Yerro 4, Montebon 4, Sabandal 4, Magbuhos 3, Lastimosa 3, Barasi 2, Ramos 2, Colonia 0, Ojarikre 0, Cañete 0, Barcelona 0, Anabo 0.

QUARTERS: 24-15, 40-25, 56-39, 70-48.

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