Ateneo showcased its superiority against archrival La Salle, dealing a 79-62 beatdown for its 11th straight victory in the 74th UAAP men’s basketball tournament Sunday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum in front of 14,299 spectators.
Nico Salva scored a game-high 19 points while Kiefer Ravena and Emman Monfort each had 13 markers. Ravena added six rebounds while Monfort completed his stat line with seven boards and six assists for Ateneo.
The Blue Eagles have now clinched twice-to-beat advantage in the final four as they moved further up the ladder with an 11-0 win-loss mark.
Despite being No. 1 in the league, Ateneo came out with more energy, playing as if they needed the game more than ailing La Salle.
After a tight first half that saw them leading by just five points, the Blue Eagles shifted their game into higher gear after the break, coming out with an 11-3 run for their first double-digit lead of the game. Ateneo led by eleven points, 53-42, heading into the final frame.
Almon Vosotros opened the fourth quarter with four quick points for La Salle, but Ateneo responded with an 11-2 blitz to wrap the game up.
The Blue Eagles dictated the game even with rookie star Greg Slaughter only logging 18 minutes after being saddled with foul trouble throughout the match.
“That’s one of the keys for us, we don’t rely on just one guy,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black, who won his 90th UAAP game. “We’re a very balanced team and that did it. It was easy to motivate the players because it’s La Salle.”
Tonino Gonzaga came off the bench to take up the scoring cudgels with Slaughter’s limited exposure, scoring 12 points. Slaughter finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
The slumping Archers remained winless in the second round as they suffered their fourth straight defeat. Their record fell to 4-6 with hopes of a final four seat fading slowly.
The Blue Eagles, who led by as much as 20 points, have now won 11 of their last 14 games against the Green Archers.
Arnold Van Opstal scored a career-high 13 points to lead La Salle.
Ateneo 79 – Salva 19, Ravena 13, Monfort 13, Gonzaga 12, Slaughter 8, Chua 7, Long 6, Tiongson 1
La Salle 62 – Van Opstal 13, Vosotros 9, Tampus 9, Torres 8, Revilla 6, Villanueva 6, Atkins 4, Dela Paz 3, Paredes 2, Webb 2
Quarters: 14-11, 31-26, 53-42, 79-62
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