Tab Baldwin said that the Ateneo de Manila University’s game against University of the Philippines will not be a “Finals rematch” due to the difference in personnel having most of his Season 85 starters already gone.
Yet, the defending champions Blue Eagles still proved to be the biggest hurdle for the erstwhile-undefeated Fighting Maroons, securing a 99-89 overtime win to cap the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament first round in front of 12,122 fans in the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Sunday.
“Obviously very delighted with the win. It was a character game for us. UP is a great team and they played great. I think that they did UP stuff the entire game,” said head coach Tab Baldwin after Ateneo finally won an overtime game in three tries.
With the game knotted at 85, first-year Blue Eagles Mason Amos and Joseph Obasa made the biggest plays in the extra period.
Amos first drained a short jumper before extending his range and drilling a triple. Obasa then continued Ateneo’s romp with a slam dunk for a 92-85 lead with 1:27 to go.
CJ Cansino was fouled with 49.9 seconds after making his floater but missed the freebie to pull UP within five, 87-92.
Reyland Torres grabbed the offensive board from Cansino’s missed charity but he too flunked both of his free throws with 40 seconds remaining.
“I think we just did a good job keeping composed. We know they’re gonna make a comeback because they’re a good team so we just stay composed and tick to what we can control,” said Amos, who played his best game yet in his rookie year with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
The Blue Eagles squandered a seven-point, 80-73 lead with four minutes and 26 seconds left in the fourth quarter as Francis Lopez and Torres linked up for seven unanswered points that sent the game to OT.
Ateneo boosted its record to 4-3, tied with De La Salle University for third to fourth spots but holds the tiebreaker due to ‘win over the other.’
Chris Koon delivered 17 points and seven rebounds as well for the Blue Eagles, while Obasa had 13 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks.
Ateneo also got huge contributions from Kai Ballungay with 10 points and 10 rebounds; Jared Brown with nine points on three triples; and the duo of Ian Espinosa and Jason Credo with eight points apiece.
UP, on the other hand, suffered its first loss to slip to 6-1, equal with National University atop the standings. The former has the advantage after winning their first round matchup, 78-60.
Cansino led the Fighting Maroons with 22 points and six rebounds, while reigning MVP Malick Diouf had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Gerry Abadiano also produced 12 points for UP but was a minus-22 in his 20 minutes and 19 seconds on the floor.
Ateneo 99 – Amos 19, Koon 17, Obasa 13, Ballungay 10, Brown 9, Credo 8, Espinosa 8, Nieto 7, Quitevis 3, Lazaro 3, Chiu 2, Gomez 0.
UP 89 – Cansino 22, Diouf 13, Abadiano 12, Belmonte 9, Torres 8, Torculas 6, Lopez 5, Cagulangan 5, Alarcon 5, Alter 3, Felicilda 1, Briones 0, Gonzales 0.
Quarterscores: 20-18, 44-43, 68-63, 80-80, 99-89.