MIKE Nieto and Thirdy Ravena joined hands in a pivotal fourth quarter run as Ateneo outlasted Mapua, 80-74, to top the elimination round of the 6th FCBL-Freego Cup held recently at the Philippine Buddhacare gym in Quezon City.
While it was Jime Escaler who topscored for the Eaglets with 21 points, it was the game-long brilliance of Nieto and the clutch baskets of Ravena that made the big difference, helping the Katipunan-based squad to top the nine-team, single-round elims with a 7-1 mark.
Held scoreless in the third quarter, Ravena rediscovered his touch in the fourth by scattering eight of his 18 points, including a tough jumper that all but settled the issue.
Nieto finished with 20 points aside from posting 12 rebounds, two assists, and a steal to win the Freego Player of the Game award for the third time.
National University also finished with a 7-1 mark following its 67-62 conquest of defending champion Far Eastern University, but the No. 1 spot in the semis went to Ateneo due to the winner-over-the-other rule.
In the semis of the event sponsored by Smart Sports, Fresh Gear, Colt Commercial, Powerbest Mrkg. Inc., Jumbo Plastic Linoleum, Hapee Toothpaste and Insular Square of Cebu, Ateneo will be facing the Baby Tamaraws.
The NU Bullpups, on the other hand, will be facing the Mapua Red Robins in the other Final Four pairing.
Meantime, multi-titled Chiang Kai Shek College ended its campaign on a high note by beating University of Perpetual Help, 75-74, while Jose Rizal University tripped University of Santo Tomas, 79-71.