Reuben Terrado, GMA News
07/30/2011 | 03:41 PM
Undefeated defending champion Ateneo used a balanced offensive attack in turning back the University of the Philippines, 77-57, on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum to remain on top of the standings in the 74th UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
The Blue Eagles overcame the Fighting Maroons’ hot first quarter shooting with a defensive stand in the final three quarters to remain undefeated after five games.
The Fighting Maroons, who even led by 21-19 after the first period, suffered their third straight loss after opening the season with a 69-61 win over University of the East.
Ateneo’s starters all finished scored in double figures with highly-touted rookie Kiefer Ravena scattering 15 points, four assists and four steals while fellow newbie Greg Slaughter, a 6-foot-11 Filipino-American transferee from the University of the Visayas, tallied 14 markers and 13 rebounds.
Slaughter, who previously played for the Green Lancers in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI), got the green light to play this season after completing a one-year residency requirement for transferees.
Veterans Kirk Long, Emman Monfort and Nico Salva added 14, 13 and 10 points each for the Blue Eagles.
Ateneo’s feat is the first time since FEU’s starters—Mark Barroca, RR Garcia, Pipo Noundou, Aldrech Ramos and Paul Sanga—scored 10 points or more in the Tamaraws’ 76-72 win win over UE on August 9, 2009.
Blue Eagles coach Norman Black, however, said their defense helped pull off the win.
"We played good defense in the first three quarters. We didn’t play bad defense in the first quarter but it’s just that UP played great offense. We buckled down to work on defense in the last three quarters which was the difference," said Black.
UP finished with a 47 percent clip from the field in the first period but failed to sustain its hot start after that. No Fighting Maroon scored in double digits with Mike Silungan, Jett Manuel and Mike Gamboa ending up with eight markers each.
Ateneo also shot 6-of-10 from behind the arc, a marked improvement after making just one of its 17 attempts against University of the East last week.
"We’ve been working hard on it in practice so we recovered a little bit in our three-point shooting," Black said.
The Blue Eagles pulled away behind Monfort and Tonino Gonzaga’s combined 12 points to erect a 42-31 halftime lead.
UP had a mini-run in the fourth period to cut the deficit to eight, 62-54, on Jelo Montescastro’s fastbreak lay-up but Ateneo quickly countered with its own scoring spurt to keep the Fighting Maroons at bay.
Long hit a clutch three-pointer, Salva scored a jumper and Ravena made two free throws to push Ateneo’s lead back to double digits with less than three minutes left in the game.
In other related news, UP’s Carlo Gomez is expected to be meted with a one-game suspension after punching Salva in the midsection in the fourth quarter. - JVP, GMA News