MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles rebounded from their first loss of the season by routing the hosts National University Bulldogs, 89-65, in the UAAP Season 75 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena Sunday.
The four-time defending champions led wire-to-wire and were never really threatened as they bounced back from their upset loss against the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers last Thursday.
“The whole plan was just to execute for 40 minutes,” said Ateneo head coach Norman Black after the game. “We just have to recognize the key players of NU.”
The Eagles got a balanced scoring effort from their players, with Nico Salva top-scoring with 21 points, while Kiefer Ravena had a strong all-around game with 17 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Greg Slaughter scored 14 points and grabbed 13 boards for the Blue Eagles.
“It was a mandatory for us to win the game today after our loss to UST,” Ravena said.
Ateneo opened the game with an 8-0 run and were ahead 55-34 by halftime, shooting 59% from the field and scoring 34 points in the paint.
The Bulldogs made a brief run in the third quarter, scoring eight straight points to cut the lead to 17, 44-61.
But out of a timeout, Tonino Gonzaga drained a three-pointer then converted a fastbreak lay-up to increase Ateneo’s lead, 66-44.
At the end of the third quarter, last season’s MVP Bobby Ray Parks sparked another 6-0 run to make it 69-54, but the comebacking Ryan Buenafe drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to stymie the Bulldogs’ comeback attempt.
The fourth period was a mere formality as the Eagles kept the Bulldogs at bay. Parks also fouled out at the 4:14, ending any hopes of an NU comeback.
Parks finished with 22 points, 10 of which were scored in the third quarter. But he never got into a rhythm and misfired from the outside throughout the game.
The NU role players, who were key in their opening day rout of University of the East, also lost their touch from the perimeter in the face of Ateneo’s scrambling defense.
Ateneo improved to 2-1 this season, tied with the De La Salle Green Archers in the league standings.
The Bulldogs drop to 1-1.
ADMU 89 - Salva 21, Ravena 17, Slaughter 14, Chua 12, GOnzaga 9, Tiongson 8, Elorde 3, Buenafe 3, Erram 2, Porter 0, Pessumal 0, Capacio 0
NU 65 - Parks 22, Mbe 14, Villamor 10, Ignacio 6, Rono 5, De Guzman 2, Betayene 2, Alolino 2, Khobuntin 1, Javillonar 1, Rosario 1, Neypes 0, Labing-isa 0
Quarter scoring: 28-17, 55-34, 72-54, 89-65