Ateneo Blue Eagles rallied from a double digit halftime deficit to beat Mapua Cardinals, 90-77, and punched a ticket to the quarterfinals of the Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup in San Juan City.
Ateneo (4-2) is now just behind San Beda Red Lions (5-1) and De La Salle Green Archers (6-0) in Group B, who are all assured of the quarterfinal tickets.
Aaron Black inflicted early damage in the 2nd half while rookie and Batang Gilas prodigy Jolo Mendoza went clutch in the end to put the finishing touches on Ateneo win.
Black finished with 18 markers while Mendoza poured all of his 11 points in the final canto.
After the 75-all deadlock at crunchtime, Mendoza took over and hit back-to-back treys plus a top of the key jumper to cap a 15-2 scoring barrage by the Katipunan-based squad.
“We weren’t too happy with our defensive efforts and intensity but you know we’re happy to come up with the win,” said coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
Heading into the next round, coach Arespacochaga wants to see more of Ateneo’s offensive system as they go against the collegiate top contenders.
“We wanted to see more of that, more passes, more recognition from players with their teammates, about who can score where,” Arespacochaga explained.
Ateneo still has a game left to play, and on Sunday, they will go against San Beda for the 2nd seed.
On the other hand, Allwell Oraeme stood on top of Mapua with 13 markers and 17 boards.
Mapua will bow out of the tournament with a 1-6 slate. – By John Bryan Ulanday