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Eagles in finals

  • Written by Theodore Jurado
  • Published in Basketball
  • Read: 219

Game Saturday:

(Mall of Asia Arena)

4 p.m. -- DLSU vs. Ateneo (M)

MIKE Nieto delivered big shots as Ateneo nipped Far Eastern University in overtime, 88-84, to set up
another title duel with La Salle in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament last night at the Mall of
Asia Arena.

With the game hanging in the balance, Nieto scored five straight points that shattered the 80
-80 deadlock and broke the backs of the Tamaraws.
    
By winning the Final Four decider, Ateneo can now heave a sigh of relief, as it was facing on
the brink of having its remarkable campaign that highlighted by a 13-0 elimination start going down
the drain.
    
The Eagles sent the game into extra five minutes after Isaac Go calmly hit a trey and Arvin
Tolentino fumbled on his attempt for a game-winner in the final 8.5 seconds in regulation.
    
“Coach Tab (Baldwin) made a great play,” said Ateneo assistant mentor Sandy Arespacochaga.
    
It was also Go who iced the game with a follow-up shot while he was about to fall down the
floor in the final 22.5 seconds for a 87-82 Eagles advantage.
    
Thirdy Ravena led Ateneo with 17 points and seven rebounds, Matt Nieto added 16 points, while
Chibueze Ikeh also had 16 markers and pulled down 11 rebounds.
    
For the second straight year, the Eagles and the Green Archers face off in the league’s
biggest stage on Saturday at the same Pasay venue.
    
“It’s going to be tough. La Salle is the defending champions. They have the MVP,” said
Arespacochaga, as Ateneo is bracing for another Ben Mbala onslaught.
    
“The chance to compete for a championship is a very big blessing.”
    
For the second straight year, Ateneo foiled FEU in the Final Four.  Aside from the Archers, it
was the Tamaraws who dealt the Eagles one of two defeats.
    
“Credit to FEU, they really played well. The players really stepped up. We didn’t think them
as a 7-7 team. There were ups and downs. But, you know what a great game. We happy that the players
experienced that. You could see their growth,” said Arespacochaga.
    
Despite falling short of being the third No. 4 seed to make it to the championship round,
Tamaraws mentor Olsen Racela was satisfied on the team’s valiant effort.
    
“I’m proud the way the players played this season. From the pre-season up to the players. I’m
proud sa growth ng team,” said Racela.  “We were one stop away from making it to the Finals. But this
loss doesn’t defined us.”
    
FEU stunned Ateneo, 90-77, last Sunday that set the stage for the semis decider.
    
Aside from nailing seven triples, the Eagles turned on to their defense in the first half to
built a 40-33 lead at the break, with Go nailing a three-pointer to close out the first 20 minutes of
play.
    
Jasper Parker was the bright spot for the Tamaraws in the first half, scoring 12 points. He
eventually finished with 19 points.
    
In women’s play, University of Santo Tomas overcame a University of the East fightback from 18
points down to carve out a 63-53 win and send their step-ladder semis duel to a decider.
    
“We survived two do-or-die games and I hope the girls will pull through on Saturday,” said
Tigresses coach Haydee Ong.
    
Anjel Anies, whose three-pointer gave UST a 31-13 lead late in the first half, came through
with 21 points. Jem Angeles flirted with a triple-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists
while Sai Larosa also scored 12 points and grabbed nine boards.
    
Ruthlaine Tacula had 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals while Love Sto.
Domingo chipped in 12 points and 12 boards for the twice-to-beat Lady Warriors.
    
The scores:
    
Ateneo (88) -- Ravena 17, Nieto Ma. 16, Ikeh 16, Go 13, Mendoza 5, Tio 5, Nieto Mi. 4,
Tolentino 3, Black 3, Mamuyac 2, Verano 2, Porter 2, Asistio 0.
    
FEU (84) -- Parker 19, Tolentino 13, Comboy 11, Orizu 10, Escoto 6, Iñigo 6, Trinidad 6, Cani
5, Dennison 4, Eboña 2, Tuffin 2, Bayquin 0.
    
Quarterscores: 21-15, 40-33, 57-53, 75-75, 88-84.