MANILA, Philippines -- Defending champion Ateneo de Manila High School leaned on another monster performance by Kai Sotto to decimate rivals De La Salle-Zobel, 88-59, and move closer towards a semifinals bonus in the UAAP Season 81 juniors basketball tournament.
Sotto had 26 points and 20 rebounds on Sunday's game at the FilOil Flying V Centre, towing the Blue Ealgets to their 10th wins against three losses.
Ateneo is currently at second place in the league standings.
Their bid for a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final 4 was boosted after University of Santo Tomas (UST) -- already out of the semis race -- stunned Far Eastern University (FEU) -Diliman, 86-83.
Mark Nonoy and JB Lina combined for 46 points and 28 rebounds, but it was Jomar Amador's huge jumper and Liam Manabat's defensive stop in the final 6.7 seconds that spelled the difference for the Tiger Cubs.
UST won for the sixth time in 13 matches.
Royce Alforque had 26 points for the Baby Tamaraws, who fell to 9-4. They are now one game behind Ateneo in the race for the No. 2 spot in the Final 4.
Didat Hanapi, given the time to shine, scored 24 points as Adamson University moved up in a tie with FEU-Diliman in second place at 9-4 following an 85-64 dismantling of already eliminated University of the East.
The Baby Tams are still in the race for the twice-to-beat spot, but they face a tough foe in the Blue Eaglets in the final elimination round game on Sunday.
Terrence Fortea returned from suspension and scored 23 points to lift National University to a 106-55 rout of UP Integrated School.
Still unbeaten in the second round, the Bullpups hold the league's best record at 12-1, and have clinched the No. 1 seed. They will wrap up their elimination round schedule on Sunday against the Baby Tamaraws.
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