Ateneo secures finals berth despite FEU's OT threat
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Ateneo Blue Eagles exacted their semis game one revenge on the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws, 88-84, via overtime on Wednesday, November 22 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
A nail-biting 4th quarter saw the Tamaraws take the lead in the final frame as Wendell Comboy sank a triple to see them up by two points. The Tamaraws then made a 6-0 run, but the Blue Eagles rallied back and tied the game again at 69-all via Mike Nieto's triple. The drama reached its climax when the regulation time ended at 75-all.
A dagger three by Matt Nieto with 46 seconds left in the overtime gave Ateneo the insurance 85-80.
Richard Escoto countered with a midrange jumper to get within 3 points (85-82), but Isaac Go became the hero of the game as he went down on the floor but still managed to score his only two points in the overtime, sealing the win for the Blue Eagles (87-82).
It is another repeat of the Season 79 semi-finals, where Ateneo held the twice-to-beat advantage in the final 4, but had to extend the semi-finals series to a second game against FEU via an overtime win. The Katipunan-based squad once again bested the Tamaraws to secure a UAAP Season 80 men's basketball finals berth against archrivals and defending champions, De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers.
Four Blue Eagles racked up double digits with Thirdy Ravena leading the team with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Matt Nieto and Chibueze Ikeh chipped in 16 points apiece with the Nigerian center grabbing 11 boards. Go almost recorded a double-double as he made 13 points and 9 rebounds.
On the FEU's end, four players also recorded double digits with Jasper Parker topping the Tamaraws with 19 points. Arvin Tolentino came out with 13 points, Wendell Comboy had 11 and Prince Orizu tallied 10 points.
The Blue Eagles had the upperhand early in the match as the Tamaraws drowned in fouls in the first quarter alone. Arvin Tolentino picked up two fouls in one sequence, including a unsportsmanlike foul for an unnecessary push on Chibueze Ikeh when he was down on the floor with Prince Orizu.
Ateneo capitalized on FEU's errors despite struggling to break through their zone defense that limited the Blue Eagles to a 38.24% field goal percentage at halftime.
However, this saw the Blue Eagles redeem themselves from the 3-point range. The Katipunan-based squad made 7 triples in the first half, including an Isaac Go's buzzer-beating triple that put the Blue Eagles up by 7 points at the half (40-33).
The Tamaraws had a 7-0 start to the second half, but Barkley Eboña was then fouled out of the game. The Blue Eagles managed to pull away the lead but the Tamaraws capitalized on their free throws to inch closer to the Blue Eagles.
The first game of the UAAP Season 80 men's basketball finals series will be on Saturday, November 25, 4PM, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
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, Inigo 6, Trinidad 6, Cani 5, Dennison 4, Ebona 2, Tuffin 2, Bayquin 0.
Quarter Scores: 21-15, 40-33, 57-53, 75-75, 88-84 (OT).