Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ateneo wins over UST ends 1st round on top

You can never really count out any team in the UAAP. Fresh from their 72-66 win against the Ateneo Blue Eagles, the FEU Tamaraws were upset by the previously winless National University Bulldogs as Edwin Asoro, Jewel Ponferada and Jonathan Jhanke prevented a winless first round via a 69-61 win over the Tamaraws. The win by the Bulldogs inspired the Ateneo Blue Eagles as they regrouped in the final quarter and summoned their signature endgame defense to frustrate the UST Growling Tigers from scoring in the last five minutes as the Blue Eagles eked out a hard earned 64-57 win against UST and regain solo first place at the end of the first round of the UAAP.

The game started with Ateneo racing to a 13 - 6 lead courtesy of Rabah Al Husaini and Ryan Buenafe who both chipped in four points apiece. Reigning MVP Jervy Cruz scored 4 points to pace the Tigers but was not really a factor the whole game. The Tigers used a 6-0 run in the last 4:50 to pull within striking distance 13-12. The first five minutes of the second quarter saw both teams milk the clock for every possession which resulted in botched plays and missed shots for the Ateneo. Kirk Long missed on a field goal, Rabah missed on close range, Eric and Bacon committed turnovers and Chris Tiu missed a three pointer. Al-Husaini eventually broke the silence with two free throws with 7:40 left and it was not until 5:23 left that Ryan Buenafe drove to the basket and Ateneo scored its first field goal and equalize the score 17-all. Then the Chris Tiu express started rolling as he nailed a free throw and a jumper, then scored on fastbreak and another free throw. The Eagles still ended the quarter in control 29-25.

Interestingly, during the third quarter the Eagles started to pull out as an avalanche of Eagle offensive thrust proved fruitful that built the Eagles a 39-29 lead after Jai Reyes’ three-pointer. Chris Tiu and Jai Reyes combined for 13 points to give the Eagles enough distance for the Tigers who were just pacing themselves and looking for loopholes in the Ateneo defense. The Growling Tigers then fought back through Dylan Ababou and Francis Allera as both players scored 10 points apiece with Ababou mostly on free throws and Allera with drives and a triple. The duo erased the Blue Eagle lead and the quarter ended the way the half started 49-45.

The fourth quarter saw Khasim Mirza waxed hot as he scored on a put back and a three pointer to put the Tigers ahead with a 50-49 lead and 6:55 left in the game. Rabah Al-Husaini countered for Ateneo and Mirza again scored on a jumper after Jervy Cruz connected on a field goal to give UST a 54-51 lead with 5:38 left. Then it happened, the Blue Eagles put the to work their defensive spell that resulted in 7 missed shots, four turnovers by the Tigers plus three blocked shots by Nonoy Baclao in 14 possessions of the Tigers.

In return the Blue Eagles scored ten unanswered points capped by another triple by Jai Reyes to give the Blue Eagles a commanding 61-54 lead with 29 seconds left. After the Tigers sued for time they lost the ball again which resulted in free throws for the Eagles and eventually the game. Since their overtime loss to the Growling Tigers in 2006 for the season 69 title, the Blue Eagles have gotten the better of their match up with UST with three straight wins. With this win the Blue Eagles solidified their claim as the top team in the first round with a 6-1 slate.

Ateneo (64) Al-Husaini 17, Tiu 14, Buenafe 12, Reyes 10, Salamat 3, Baldos 1, Baclao 2, Nkemakolam 2, Long 1, Salva 1, Austria 0, Escueta 0,

UST (57) Ababou 15, Allera 13, Cruz 8, Mirza 8, Fortuna 6, Bautista 3, Canlas 2, Camus 2, Gile 0, Taylor 0,

Quarter scores: 13-12, 29-25, 49- 45, 64-57

No comments: