MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Blue Eagles banked on a huge second-half run to dismantle the UST Growling Tigers, 79-52, and return to their winning ways in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, October 12.
Coming off a dismal 2-of-18 outing from the field in their loss to the La Salle Green Archers last Sunday, sophomore point guard Forthsky Padrigao bounced back big for Ateneo with a career-high 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting, 8 assists, and 5 steals.
Dave Ildefonso, who also struggled against the Green Archers, likewise came up with a much-better showing this time around, backstopping Padrigao with an all-around game of 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists.
With the win, Ateneo improved its record to 3-1, while UST dropped to 1-3.
After a tight first half, where Ateneo only led by a point, 33-32, the Blue Eagles found their offensive groove in the third quarter and outscored the Growling Tigers, 24-11, for a comfortable 57-43 advantage heading into the payoff period.
Ildefonso spearheaded Ateneo’s sizzling start in the third period as he delivered both of his triples early in that frame to help the Blue Eagles seize a double-digit cushion.
It was all Blue Eagles from that point on as their lead even ballooned to as many as 29 points, 79-50, in the dying seconds of the lopsided affair.
“Our defense wasn’t bad in the first half and they hit some tough shots, made some one-on-one plays and we anticipated that. But at the offensive end, we generated a lot of good shots, we just didn’t shoot the ball well at all,” said Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin of the Blue Eagles’ slow first half.
“A lot of open shots just didn’t fall and so the players felt not great at halftime. But I think the coaching staff felt that it wasn’t really that bad and we stuck to the job, we have good players, they’re going to hit good shots, and in the second half, we finally started to hit some shots,” he added.
Nic Cabañero paced the Growling Tigers anew in the loss with 12 points, while Ivan Lazarte added 11 markers.
The Blue Eagles will look to start a new winning streak when they collide with the UP Fighting Maroons in a highly anticipated rematch of the Season 84 Finals on Sunday, October 16 at 4:30 pm.
The Growling Tigers, meanwhile, will try to snap their three-game losing skid when they take on the UE Red Warriors on the same day at 1 pm.
Ateneo 79 – Padrigao 20, Ildefonso 10, Ballungay 10, Koon 7, Kouame 7, Chiu 5, Quitevis 5, Andrade 3, Gomez 3, Garcia 3, Fornilos 3, Lazaro 2, Daves 1, Fetalvero 0, Ong 0, Lao 0.
UST 52 – Cabañero 12, Lazarte 11, Faye 8, Pangilinan 5, Manalang 5, Duremdes 5, Garing 4, Magdangal 2, Manaytay 0, Calimag 0, Laure 0, Mantua 0, Herrera 0, Escobido 0, Gesalem 0.
Quarters: 18-14, 33-32, 57-43, 79-52.