The two time defending UAAP champion Ateneo Blue Eagles flirted with disaster before unleashing their might and heft against the emerging National University Bulldogs as they beat the Bulldogs 82 – 65. The win put the Eagles in a tie for third place together with the DLSU Green Archers and UST Growling Tigers at three wins and two losses apiece. A loss would have put the Blue Eagles in fifth place tie with the Bulldogs at 2 – 3 and it would mark the first time the Blue Eagles would’ve lost back to back since the finals of 2006.
The Bulldogs started the game like a house on fire as Kokoy Hermosisima and Joseph Terson were nailing their shots. This eventually gave the Bulldogs a 17 -11 lead after Jason Escueta missed on a jumper to end the first quarter. At the start of the second quarter the Bulldogs sent their second unit which went on a 9 to 3 tear that gave them their biggest lead at 28 – 14. This was the cue that five year veteran Eric Salamat needed as he fueled the Ateneo comeback by scoring 8 points as they closed the quarter with a paralyzing 19 – 6 run to close out the half trailing by only one 33 -34.
The Bulldogs were demoralized after that Blue Eagle run as they committed countless turnovers that the Blue Eagles capitalized on. Eric Salamat, Kirk Long and the rest of the Blue Eagles got easy points off those turnovers which were caused by bad passes and good defense by the Blue Eagles. By the end of the third quarter the Eagles were comfortably ahead 61 – 48 which is a 27 point turn around that showed the inexperience of the Bulldogs.
In the fourth quarter the lead of the Blue Eagles grew to 69 – 54 which caused panic to the National University cagers. Seldom used shooter LJ Malanday waxed hot in the pay-off period as he sank four three pointers that cut the lead of the Blue Eagles. After regrouping , the Eagles closed out the game with a fiery wind up, something they failed to do in the game against DLSU. Eric Salamat topscored for the Blue Eagles with 20 points while Kirk Long who went 4 out of 4 from beyond the arc added 19 points while Nico Salva’s perimeter game netted him 12 points.
ADMU 82 – Salamat 20, Long 19, Salva 14, Dela Cruz 6, Golla 6, Tiongson 5, Monfort 5, Gonzaga 3, Escueta 2, Buenafe 2, Erram 0, Chua 0, Austria 0.
NU 65 – Hermosisima 18, Malanday 12, Mbe 11, Khobuntin 7, Terso 5, Magat 4, Javillonar 3, Ponferrada 3, Tungcul 2, Ludovice 0, Singh 0, Baloran 0.
Quarterscores: 11-17, 33-34, 61-48, 82-65.