Banking on a big third-quarter run, Ateneo turned back University of the East on Saturday night, 84-69 to get back on track in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
After squandering double-digit leads in the first canto and trailing by two at the break, the Blue Eagles went on a big tear in the third frame behind the likes of guard Anton Asistio, Mike Nieto and Cameroon import Chibueze Ikeh that allowed them to pull away from the pesky Red Warriors.
The victory enabled Ateneo to bounce back from a painful one-point loss to Adamson last week while improving its record to 3-2, tying Adamson at second spot behind powerhouse La Salle (5-0).
“The score doesn’t tell the story of how hard this game was fought,” said Ateneo coach Sandy Arespacochaga, heaving a big sigh of relief that his wards overcame a gritty UE side which proved a tough nut to crack until the final buzzer.
Asistio tallied a team-high 21 markers while teaming up with Ikeh and Nieto in their 28-point explosion in the third that gave Ateneo full control over UE.
Rookie Alvin Pasaol dished out his finest performance with 22 points, 10 of them coming in the final frame, but the Red Warriors remained the only winless team with their fifth consecutive setback. – Jerome Lagunzad
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Ateneo (84) – Asistio 21, Wong 17, Ikeh 11, Nieto Mi. 11, Ravena 7, Nieto Ma. 7, Verano 4, Go 3, Tolentino 3, Babilonia 0, Mendoza 0, Porter 0, White 0.
UE (69) – Pasaol 22, Batiller 11, Varilla 7, Abanto 6, Derige 6, Charcos 4, Olayon 3, Manalang 3, De Leon 2, Palma 2, Penuela 2, Larupay 1, Acuno 1, Bartolome 0, Gagate 0, Armenion 0.
Quarterscores: 20-9, 30-32, 58-46, 84-69.