MANILA, Philippines -- Ateneo de Manila University's vaunted depth was on display on Sunday when they faced off against archrival De La Salle University in the second round of the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament.
With the Green Archers getting off to a strong start, it was Adrian Wong -- not Thirdy Ravena nor Ange Kouame -- who kept the Blue Eagles afloat in the first quarter.
He scored Ateneo's first 8 points of the game, and continued to find his mark from long range all throughout the game. His fourth triple of the contest served as the dagger with two minutes left, helping the Blue Eagles secure a 77-69 triumph for their 10th win of the tournament.
"I thought they (La Salle) looked very composed and sure of themselves and understanding what they wanted to do," said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.
"If Adrian doesn't come out hot, we're in trouble in the first half," he added. "Fortunately, he did."
Wong finished with 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting, going 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. It was his highest scoring game of the season, having normed 5.88 points per game heading into the crucial contest.
For Baldwin, Wong's breakout game was proof of the strength of their roster.
"I think it's another example of, you know, somebody else in our roster stepping up and having a good game when it was needed," said Baldwin.
Wong, for his part, said he was simply living up to one of the team's mantras.
"Anyone could have a breakout game. Anyone could rise to the occasion," said Wong.
"That's one of our mantras -- next man up," he explained. "So I believe anyone on this team can rise to the occasion."
While he has been a regular starter for the Blue Eagles in Season 82, Wong has seen his production go up-and-down in the tournament. Yet this is a non-issue for the swingman, who said his only concern is the Blue Eagles' continued success.
"I think it's about making sacrifices. Sacrifices for the team. Because obviously, we just wanna win," he explained.
"It doesn't matter what happens on the stat sheet, as long as we're positive," Wong added. "If I have to sit out the next game, then so be it. If someone else is doing well, then it's okay with me."
"It's okay with anyone in this team, because we know that all we wanna do is win."
Thanks in part to Wong's best scoring game of the season, the Blue Eagles improved to 10-0 and became the first team to clinch a Final 4 berth.
"As a team, we're jelling together even more," said Wong. "Hopefully, we run on all cylinders. Not just me and certain people each game, but all of us, all together."
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