MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Blue Eagles left zero doubt that they would allow an upset to end the UAAP Season 84 first round as they outgunned the UST Growling Tigers, 91-80, at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday, April 9.
The league’s lone standing dynasty ended the first round with a clean 7-0 slate, and a 33-game winning streak dating back to October 2018, while the Tigers dropped their third straight game for a 2-5 record.
Veteran Tyler Tio once again showed off his pro-ready shooting chops, and finished with a team-high 20 points in just 14 minutes on a 7-of-9 clip, and 4-of-5 from three, while five other Eagles score at least 8 in the lopsided affair.
Coming off a 20-point deficit late in the second quarter, UST looked like it was ready to get close once again as it ran a 13-0 fightback bridging the two halves ending with a Joshua Fontanilla layup to get within seven, 43-50, at the 8:15 mark of the third.
However, the Eagles stood their ground for the rest of the period, and even peaked with a 24-point lead, 82-58, with 7:59 left in the final frame off a Tio floater.
Not even a 12-2 UST run capped by back-to-back Sherwin Concepcion triples was enough to get the game back into competitive shape as Ateneo rookie Gab Gomez sealed the deal off a long bomb, 90-72, with 2:56 remaining.
“UST has always been like that. They got us to a bad set where they’re playing better. We’re happy that we scored 91 points, but we have to work on our defense some more. We’re happy we came out with the win,” said Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga after the game.
Concepcion continued to have the greenest of lights as he finished with a game-high 22 points, albeit on 8-of-22 shooting and 6-of-14 from deep. Rookie captain Paul Manalang scored 10 in 26 minutes, while Nic Cabanero scored 9 with 9 rebounds.
Both teams will see action through the Holy Week as the league will reportedly have a game day on Holy Tuesday, April 12.
Ateneo 91 – Tio 20, Andrade 10, Koon 9, Belangel 9, Kouame 8, Mamuyac 8, Ildefonso 6, Daves 6, Lazaro 4, Gomez 3, Chiu 3, Padrigao 3, Verano 2, Mallillin 0, Mendoza 0.
UST 80 – Concepcion 22, Manalang 10, Fontanilla 9, Cabanero 9, Santos 9, M. Pangilinan 8, Mantua 5, Manaytay 3, Gomez de Liano 3, Ando 2, Samudio 0.
Quarters: 27-19, 50-34, 74-58, 91-80.