By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Ateneo Blue Eagles notched their second straight victory in Season 80 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) following their victory over the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons, 92-71, yesterday in their “Battle of Katipunan” to claim early tournament leadership.
Displaying a balanced attack, the Eagles kept themselves ahead of the Maroons for much of the contest notwithstanding the grit that the Diliman-based team showed.
Earlier in the day, the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws bounced back from their tournament debut last weekend, defeating the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors, 90-83, to improve to 1-1 while sending UE (0-2) to its second straight defeat.
Ateneo came out charging to start the game against UP, racing to an 8-2 lead early on.
But the Maroons slowly clawed their way back, tying the match at 16-all with less the a minute to play before Ateneo swung six quick points on back-to-back triples from Isaac Go and Jolo Mendoza to push Ateneo to a 22-16 lead at the end of the first canto.
UP collected four straight points to begin the second period and reduce Ateneo’s lead to two points, 22-20.
The Eagles though would regain their bearing and started to crank things up to make a 36-25 separation midway into the quarter.
The two teams went back and forth thereafter to settle the score at 44-36 with Ateneo still ahead halfway into the match.
Third quarter saw the Eagles sustaining their command over the Maroons, 62-51.
Rookie Tyler Tio jump-started things for Ateneo in the fourth quarter, collecting 10 straight points to help his team build an 18-point cushion, 72-54, with eight minutes remaining.
UP tried to rally back but the Eagles were just too tough to crack as they went on to book the victory.
Thirdy Ravena paced Ateneo with 16 points on top of seven rebounds while Tio had 14 markers.
Rookies Juan Gomez de Liano and Jun Manzo, meanwhile, led UP with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
TAMARAWS ENTER WIN COLUMN
In the first game, FEU got off to a strong start in its match against UE and just sustained the momentum it got from it the rest of the way to enter the win column in Season 80.
Big man Prince Orizu and Ron Dennison got their team going in the opening quarter en route to the Tamaraws claiming the period, 28-11.
UE though would make its move in the succeeding quarter, behind Clark Derige and Nick Abanto, outscoring FEU, 31-22, to narrow its deficit by the halftime break, 52-42.
The Warriors continued to fight against the Tamaraws but the latter would find ways to check their opponents to remain in command, 75-64, at the end of the third period.
But UE would not relent, going on a 9-5 run in the first four minutes of the payoff quarter to cut down its deficit to just seven points, 80-73.
Dennison, however, would score six straight points thereafter to give his team extra breathing room from which the Tamaraws would take cue from and use to close out the game.
Dennison finished with 16 points to go along with four rebounds, three assists and two steals while Orizu had a double-double of 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Richard Escoto, Barkley Ebona and Arvin Tolentino had 11 points apiece for the Tamaraws.
UE, meanwhile, was led by Derige with 22 markers. Alvin Pasaol backstopped him with 13 points, six rebounds and four assists.
“Dennison played well for us today. He has certainly improved as a player,” said FEU coach Olsen Racela of their best player of the game after their win.
UAAP Season 80 action resumes on Saturday also at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with the defending champions De La Salle Green Archers (1-0) going up against the National University Bulldogs (1-0) at 2 p.m. and the Adamson Soaring Falcons (0-1) colliding with the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers (0-1) at 4 p.m.