MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) -- The Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles began their UAAP title defense in style, routing a game but overmatched Adamson Falcons squad, 73-57, in their first game of Season 75 Sunday afternoon at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Big man Greg Slaughter scored 17 points to lead a balanced all-around attack for the Eagles, who also got strong contributions from Nico Salva and their bench players, led by the comebacking Ryan Buenafe.
Slaughter also had 10 rebounds and four blocks, as well as two alley-oop dunks that fired up the Ateneo crowd.
It was a sweet revenge for the four-time defending champions, as it was the Falcons who foiled their drive to sweep the elimination round in Season 74.
The Falcons remained competitive in the first half, thanks to the hustle and energy plays of Rodney Brondial and Alex Nuyles. They trailed by only four points, 28-32, after the first two quarters.
But Ateneo broke the game open in the third quarter, leading by as much as 12 points in the period, 53-41.
Buenafe, who sat out Season 74 for personal reasons, and Oping Sumalinog, who saw limited playing time last season, were vital in the Eagles' third-quarter run.
Buenafe created scoring opportunities and converted a difficult put-back lay-up, while Sumalinog helped in limiting Nuyles and also scored six points in the third quarter.
In the final quarter, it was the Ateneo bench that did most of the damage, with JP Erram, Justin Chua, Tonino Gonzaga and Buenafe combining on a 9-3 run that gave the Eagles complete control of the contest.
Salva finished with 14 points for Ateneo, while last season's Rookie of the Year Kiefer Ravena added nine markers.
The bench mob of Erram, Chua, Gonzaga and Buenafe combinde for 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Nuyles, Brondial, Eric Camson and Roider Cabrera had some good moments for the Falcons, but Adamson clearly missed the playmaking of point guards Lester Alvarez and Jerick Canada, who both graduated after last season.
Without Alvarez and Canada, the Falcons tallied only eight assists for the whole game, while Ateneo had 20 helpers, led by Juami Tiongson with seven dimes.
Brondial led the Falcons with 13 points and 10 boards, while Nuyles had 12 points and five assists and Camson had 10 points and 12 rebounds. Cabrera also had 10 points.
But Camson shot a miserable four-of-22 from the field and Nuyles still struggled to balance his playmaking and scoring duties.
The Falcons finished the game shooting 30.7% from the field, including a paltry three-of-19 (15.8%) from beyond the arc.
ADMU - Slaughter 17, Slava 14, Ravena 9, Sumalinog 6, Buenafe 6, TIongson 5, Erram 5, Chua 4, Gonzaga 3, Golla 2, Elorde 2, Porter 0, Pessumal 0, Lim 0, Capacio 0
ADU - Brondial 13, Nuyles 12, Camson 10, Cabrera 10, Cruz 4, Monteclaro 3, Trollano 2, Etrone 2, Cabigas 1, Julkipli 0, Agustin 0, Abrigo 0
Quarter scoring: 15-16, 32-28, 55-45, 73-57