by John Remil Isaga
Ateneo de Manila University proved to be the better basketball team in Katipunan Avenue by downing neighbor University of the Philippines, 74-65, in the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball wars at the Araneta Coliseum, Wednesday.
The Blue Eagles have an 8-4 win-loss slate which solidified their hold at the third spot of the team standings. While the Fighting Maroons fell to 3-8, although their chance for a Final Four slot is still alive.
Kiefer Ravena powered Ateneo’s win with 16 points while reserve Adrian Wong became the unlikely star for them with 14 markers, nine of which came from the three-point area.
Questionable shot selection ultimately contributed to UP’s demise at the hands of Ateneo. While starters Diego Dario, Agustini Amar and Jett Manuel combined for 34 points for the Maroons, the trio made 40 shots and converted just 12 of it.
Former Batang Gilas swingman Paul Desiderio finished with just eight points off 11 attempts and failed to sink all six of his free-throws.
UP shot a horrendous 33 percent from the field and nine percent from deep compared to Ateneo’s 51 percent and 44 percent from those respective categories.
The streaking Eagles started hot off the gate, busting out a 22-7 run in the first 15 minutes to gain a 29-16 advantage over the Diliman-based cagers.
The Maroons just couldn’t seem to find a good rhythm, finishing the second quarter with a disappointing 1/11 clip from downtown. Ravena and Arvin Tolentino led the way for Ateneo, combining for 18 points and a perfect 4/4 from three-point range.
Momentum shifted to the Maroons at the start of the second half. Through hustle plays from Desiderio who went scoreless at the first two periods, UP chipped away at the deficit and outscored Ateneo, 18-9, at the end of the third.
The Eagles were not intimidated, however, and unleashed a 12-3 run at the start of the final canto, stretching the lead back to 19. UP hustled for rebounds and good shots down the stretch but didn’t do enough to cover for their dismal shooting throughout the game.
“It was a bad start for us…sobrang bad start,” said Dario after the game. “We did a good job coming back but we fell short at the end.”
Dario added that as a young team, they still have to learn more in terms of strategies and game decisions.
“There’s always something we can learn after a game, manalo o matalo, so we just have to look at that,” added Dario, who led the Diliman-based cagers in scoring with 13 points.
The Fighting Maroons look to upset the defending champions National University Bulldogs, a team clawing their way back to title contention, this Sunday, 11 a.m., at the Araneta Coliseum.
ADMU (74) – Ravena 16, Wong 14, Tolentino A 8, Gotladera 6, Ikeh 6, Nieto 5, Pessumal 5, Babilonia 4, Capacio 4, Black 2, Tolentino V 2, Go 2
UP (65) – Dario 13, Amar 11, Manuel 10, Desiderio 8, Kone 7, Harris 4, Moralde 4, Vito 4, Gallarza 2, Lim 2, Asilum 0, Jaboneta 0, Juruena 0, Longa 0
Quarter scores: 19-11, 45-26, 54-44, 74-65