MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Round 1 of the Battle of Katipunan goes to the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles.
Behind an explosive debut from rookie Tyler Tio, the Blue Eagles routed their neighbors, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons, 92-71, on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum for their second straight victory in the UAAP Season 80 men's basketball tournament.
Tio, who missed Ateneo's first game due to a sprained ankle, made all six of his field goals for 14 points, and was the anchor of the stunning 15-3 run that turned a 62-51 third quarter lead into an unassailable 75-54 advantage in the fourth quarter.
Ateneo now stands at the top of the league standings with a 2-0 win-loss record, while the Fighting Maroons dropped to 1-1 after the loss.
Thirdy Ravena had another strong game, tallying 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting on top of six rebounds, while Aaron Black contributed nine points, 10 boards, and three assists to the victory. The Blue Eagles again lorded it on the boards as they had a 51-38 rebounding edge against UP.
"One of the things that Coach Tab (Baldwin) said at the half time was we needed to play better defense, and we needed to take care of the ball more," said Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga. "They shot 44% from the field in the first half, and we brought that down to 37%, so that's a big improvement."
The Fighting Maroons, brimming with confidence after their stunning win over University of Santo Tomas (UST) last Sunday, stayed within striking distance at the half, thanks to their own impressive rookie, Juan Gomez de Liaño.
The reigning UAAP juniors Most Valuable Player had nine points at the half, as UP trailed 44-36.
But the Blue Eagles steadily pulled away in the third quarter, with Black, Mike Nieto, and Raffy Verano all finding their range from the perimeter. A Verano triple helped the Blue Eagles build a double-digit lead, 62-51, to enter the final period.
That was when the floodgates opened for Ateneo.
Tio scored eight straight points, including back-to-back threes, to make it 70-51. After Noah Webb drained a triple of his own, Tio knocked down another jumper, and Chibueze Ikeh converted a lay-up. A basket by Verano completed the 15-3 scoring spurt that blew the game open, 77-54, in favor of the Blue Eagles with 6:03 left.
"It was a very good performance," Arespacochaga said of Tio's debut. "It's his first game, and he's a little bit rusty coming from the injury. He played his game, and we needed him to play well."
UP would not come close again after that, and Baldwin emptied his bench with 1:44 left as the Blue Eagles closed in on another impressive win. Ateneo, last season's losing finalist, has won its first two games of Season 80 by an average margin of 20.5 points.
Gomez de Liaño led UP with 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals, while another first-year player, Jun Manzo, scored 14 points for UP.
But Paul Desiderio, the hero of UP's win over UST, was limited to only nine points on a brutal 4-of-18 shooting clip with Ravena and Gian Mamuyac alternating on defensive duties.
Ateneo (92) – Ravena 16, Tio 14, Black 9, Ikeh 9, Asistio 7, Nieto Ma. 7, Verano 7, Go 6, Nieto Ma. 5, Porter 4, Mendoza 3, Mamuyac 2, Mallillin 2, Tolentino 1, Andrade 0, White 0.
UP (71) – De Liaño Ju. 16, Manzo 14, Lim 10, Desiderio 9, De Liaño Ja. 6, Prado 6, Webb 3, Romero 3, Ouattara 2, Lao 2, Vito 0, Harris 0, Dario 0.
Quarter scores: 22-16, 44-36, 62-51, 92-71
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