UAAP Jrs basketball: Ateneo sweeps elims, forces stepladder semis
MANILA, Philippines – The elimination round of the UAAP Juniors basketball tournament wrapped up on Sunday, February 11, at the Blue Eagle Gym in the Ateneo de Manila University.
First Game: UE (2-12) vs UPIS (3-11)
For the opening game, the University of the East (UE) Junior Warriors finally got their first on-court win after downing the University of the Philippines Integrated School (UPIS) Junior Fighting Maroons, 94-85.
The Maroons actually led for the most part of the first half and by as many as 9 points. But with nothing to lose anyway, the stars of UE all came out swinging and led the Warriors to a 58-point second half.
This win marks UE's first since the league awarded them a default in the first round against the Nazareth School of National University (NU) Bullpups after the latter was discovered to have fielded an ineligible player during their first round matchup.
Bruising big man Andre Dulalia bounced back from a 6-minute outing the previous game due to a chipped tooth and dropped a double-double of 24 points and 21 rebounds to go along with 3 blocks. Agem Miranda and Shane Dichoso followed him with 22-point and 20-point performances, respectively. Miranda also added 10 boards for a double-double finish to the season.
On the other end, it was usual suspect Matt Santiago who topscored for UPIS with 19 points and 7 rebounds. Joelo Tupaz nailed a 15-point, 10-board double-double while the Labao twins, Raf and Ralph, combined for 26.
UE still finished at last place with a 2-12 slate while UPIS ranked 7th with a 3-11 card.
Second Game: Adamson (7-7) vs DLSZ (4-10)
The second game saw the Adamson University (AdU) Baby Falcons hammer the De La Salle-Zobel (DLSZ) Junior Archers by 24, 75-51, for a crucial win in their Final 4 push.
The Archers took an early 17-16 lead after the first quarter, but that would be the last time this season that they taste a lead as the Falcons soared to a 28-7 run all the way to halftime. DLSZ's usual scorers couldn't find the bottom of the bucket while Adamson gave them a dose of brotherly love on offense courtesy of the Doria brothers, Adam and Andrey.
The Falcons continued to press forward in the second half on both ends of the court thanks to the late explosion of Adrian Manlapaz. Adamson's lone dark spot for the game was a disqualifying foul on starter Jake Engbino for throwing punches late in the 3rd quarter despite his team leading by more than 20. He would end up with one point and an early trip to the showers.
Manlapaz leapfrogged over the Doria brothers to lead with a game-high 20 points off the bench. Adam Doria finished with 18 points while Joem Sabandal chipped in 13 markers, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.
For the Archers, Chris Calimag led the way with 11 points and 8 boards. Francis Escandor and Nat Consejo scored 10 apiece.
Third Game: UST (7-7) vs FEU (8-6)
Adamson's win was immediately followed by another crucial showdown as the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tiger Cubs downed the Far Eastern University (FEU) Baby Tamaraws, 64-62, to force an extra do-or-die match with the 7-7 Falcons on Saturday, February 17, for the last Final 4 spot.
Despite already being locked in as the 3rd seed, defending champion FEU brought the fight to the Tiger Cubs with a 30-21 lead at the end of the first half. However, frontrunner MVP candidate CJ Cansino led UST after intermission to a 13-4 turnaround for the 42-all deadlock. At the end of the 3rd, FEU held a slim lead, 45-42.
Both teams then went back-and-forth at the final frame, with Xyrus Torres draining crucial long bombs and UST answering them with hard drives and free throws. With 2:50 remaining in regulation and the last Final 4 slot hanging in the balance, Rean Relucio sank an and-1 bucket but blew the freebie to keep the game tied at 57. At the very next possession, Cansino drained another wild and-1 to put the Cubs up 3, 60-57. Immediately down the lane, Kyle Bautista drained a tying 3-pointer for FEU, but Liam Manabat responded with a triple of his own to put UST up, 63-60.
After an FEU bucket that closed the gap at 63-62, Cansino was intentionally fouled but blew one of two free throws to keep the game open for the taking, 64-62, with 4 seconds left. After the timeout, RJ Abarrientos nailed a near-halfcourt triple after fishing an intentional foul. However, the bucket was waved off as the foul came before the start of Abarrientos' shooting motion. With UST not yet in the penalty, FEU got another chance to make a difference with 1.2 seconds left. However, their post shot attempt was well-guarded and clanked off as the Cubs hung on for the season-saving win.
Despite going 0/8 from downtown, Cansino still paced the Cubs with 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists. Manabat chipped in 11 points with 3 crucial 3-pointers and 5 boards.
For the Baby Tamaraws, reigning Finals MVP LJ Gonzales led the way with 13 points and a game-high 9 assists. Daniel Celso added a double-double of 11 points and 12 boards in the losing effort. FEU nevertheless clinched the 3rd seed in the Final 4.
Fourth Game: Ateneo (14-0) vs NU (11-3)
For the final regular season game, the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eaglets closed out the Nazareth School of National University (NU) Bullpups, 78-68, in a possible main event-worthy Finals preview.
The Eaglets jumped out to an early first half lead from the sweet-shooting of Dave Ildefonso and 6th man Jason Credo. Late in the second quarter with time winding down, Joaqui Manuel pulled up for the buzzer-beating triple and gave Ateneo a 10-point lead at the half, 40-30.
Tensions began to flare up at the start of the 3rd period as Manuel and NU's Paul Manalang were each assessed a technical foul for arguing and taunting. SJ Belangel took advantage of the Bullpups' mounting frustrations and drained back-to-back triples to give Ateneo its largest lead of the game at 54-40. However, Season 79 finalist NU clamped down on defense and ended the quarter with a 10-1 run to cut their deficit to 5, 55-50.
With momentum on their side, NU bust out to a 6-0 run, punctuated with a go-ahead tip by Michael Malonzo, 56-55. Both teams then went back and forth for the next few minutes until the SJ Belangel show began. With less than 3 minutes remaining, the MVP candidate went on a personal 9-3 run which included two fastbreak layups off two steals to put Ateneo back up 2, 70-68. To seal the deal, Kai Sotto sank 3 free throws and Belangel sank one final triple for good measure. All in all, the Eaglets closed out on a 15-3 run to punch their exclusive express ticket to the finals.
Belangel closed out with a game-high 31 points on 12/17 (71%) shooting and 4/6 (67%) from 3-point land. Dave Ildefonso added 16 points while Sotto chipped in 10 points, 12 boards, and 3 blocks.
For the Bullpups, Miguel Oczon topscored with 17 points and 7 rebounds while star center Rhayyan Amsali contributed 13 points and 9 boards.
UE (94): Dulalia 24, Miranda 22, Dichoso 20, Almacen 12, Angeles 9, Vinte 7, Policarpio 0, Tajonera 0, Villarta 0
UPIS (85): Santiago 19, Tupaz 15, Labao, Raf. 15, Labao Ral. 11, Greagorio 10, Vergeire 9, Estrera 6, Villa-Real 0, Condalor 0
Quarter scores: 20-20, 36-38, 70-65, 94-85
Adamson (75): Manlapaz 20, Doria, Ad. 18, Sabandal 13, Hanapi 9, Doria, An. 7, Prodigo 4, Canoy 3, Engbino 1, Santos 0, Baculio 0
DLSZ (51): Calimag 11, Escandor 10, Consejo 10, Udal 6, Damiles 4, Carlos 3, Terrado 3, Santos 2, Cortez 2, Vesagas 0, Favis 0, Pascual 0, Bonalos 0, Chavez 0, Barcuma 0, Buncayo 0
Quarter scores: 16-17, 44-24, 61-41, 75-51
UST (64): Cansino 26, Manabat 11, Relucio 11, Lina 6, Baquial 6, Narvasa 2, Dela Cruz 2, Anunciacion 0, Villapando 0, Benzonan 0, Palencia 0, Biag 0
FEU (62): Gonzales 13, Celso 11, Bautista 10, Torres 9, Abarrientos 7, Sajonia 6, Alforque 2, Armendez 2, Mariano 2, Tolentino 0, Ona 0, Boc 0, Barasi 0
Quarter scores: 12-16, 21-30, 42-45, 64-62
Ateneo (78): Belangel 31, Ildefonso 16, Credo 11, Sotto 10, Manuel 8, Angeles 2, Escalona 0, Chiu 0, David 0
NU (68): Oczon 17, Amsali 13, Fortea 9, Gonzales 7, Malonzo 7, Javillonar 5, Minerva 5, Manalang 3, Coyoca 2, Pangilinan 0, Pradella 0
Quarter scores: 18-14, 40-30, 55-50, 78-68
Season 80 Final Standings
* - Final Four lock
~ - to battle for the 4th spot on February 17