Defending champion Ateneo shrugged off a cold start to cruise past University of the East, 68-51, in UAAP Season 75 action Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Prized center Greg Slaughter registered 14 points and 10 rebounds while star guard Kiefer Ravena posted 12 points, three rebounds, and five assists to help Ateneo race to the top of the standings with a 5-1 win-loss slate.
“The game was frustrating in the first half, but the players came with more intensity in the second half,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black, who nailed his 100th victory in the UAAP.
Warriors center Christopher Javier scored 10 points in the first half to keep UE within striking distance against Ateneo, which only had a 37-34 edge after the second quarter.
But the Blue Eagles came alive in the third quarter as their star trio Ravena, Slaughter and forward Nico Salva sparked a 17-5 rally to give Ateneo a 54-39 advantage at the end of the period.
The Blue Eagles continued their rampage in the fourth quarter, increasing their cushion to as much as 23 points after a Ryan Buenafe jumper at the 5:36 mark, 64-41.
“What I’m trying to teach my players is to respect opponents,” said Black, whose team also had a bad first half versus the winless University of the Philippines before grabbing a 76-70 triumph last Thursday. “We should not come out lackadaisically in the first half and all of a sudden, we’re behind in the game.
“The good thing is they respond and they try to correct things.”
Javier hit 16 points and four rebounds to lead UE, which tied UP at the bottom of the standings with four defeats with no wins to show.
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