The Ateneo Blue Eagles shook of their first half struggles just in time to rout the Adamson Falcons, 73-57, in UAAP Season 75 action Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Ateneo survived a a rough grind in the first half that saw Adamson dominating the boards with 11 offensive rebounds despite Ateneo holding them down to 28.9 percent shooting from the field. But the four-time defending champs slowly gained the upper hand in the second half, pushing their lead up to as high as 21 points as the Falcons struggled to keep in pace.
Greg Slaughter was his usual monster presence, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks to lead the Blue Eagles to their first win of the season. Nico Salva scored 14 and Kiefer Ravena added nine for Ateneo while forwards Oping Sumalinog and Ryan Buenafe added six apiece.
Adamson started the second half strong, coming as close as a solitary point, 36-35. But Slaughter, who had a big alley-oop and an easy basket in transition, and the rest of the Ateneo starters conspired for a 13-4 run to push that lead up to double-digits, 49-39.
The second unit then picked up where the starters left off as they made a strong showing late in the third to early in the fourth behind Buenafe, Justin Chua and JP Erram, giving the team a whopping 16-point advantage as the big guns rested on the bench.
Slaughter and the others made a short return in the fourth before coming out permanently with the game safely in hand.
“I think it was a workmanlike effort on the part of my players today. If I’m honest with you, we haven’t really played a lot of games since the summer league so we wanted to see where we are now,” said Blue Eagles coach Norman Black.
“Just like in the past, I think something that really held for us was our defense. That’s something we’re going to try to bank on the entire tournament.”
Ateneo held Adamson down to 30.7 percent shooting from the field, including 15.8 percent from beyond the three-point line.
Rodney Brondial led the Falcons with 13 points and 10 rebounds, five on the offensive end. Alex Nuyles scored 12 and Eric Camson and Roider Cabrera finished with 10 each.
Brondial and Camson were held to a combined total of four points in the second half.
Ateneo (73) – Slaughter 17, Salva 14, Ravena 9, Sumalinog 6, Buenafe 6, TIongson 5, Erram 5, Chua 4, Gonzaga 3, Golla 2, Elorde 2, Porter 0, Pessumal 0, Lim 0, Capacio 0.
Adamson (57) – Brondial 13, Nuyles 12, Camson 10, Cabrera 10, Cruz 4, Monteclaro 3, Trollano 2, Etrone 2, Cabigas 1, Julkipli 0, Agustin 0, Abrigo 0.
Quarters: 15-16, 32-28, 55-45, 73-57