CIGNAL-Ateneo locked up a playoff berth in the 2019 PBA D-League with a 44-point dismantling of Batangas-EAC, 90-46, on Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Matt Nieto scored 10 of his 16 points in the first half, and had two rebounds and two assists, as the Blue Eagles slowly dissected the Generals from a tight 16-9 first quarter.
Tyler Tio topscored for the Aspirants Group leaders with 19 points, making 4 of 9 shots from the 3-point line, while William Navarro tallied a double-double of 13 points and 11 boards with two rejections.
Isaac Go added 11 points and six rebounds, with his free throws giving Cignal-Ateneo its biggest lead of the game at 48, 88-40 in the last 2:12. Mike Nieto had 10 points and three boards.
The Blue Eagles extended their winning run to five for a 7-1 record, while also giving the boot to the lowly Generals at 2-6.
"It was a physical game and I think that's certainly their formula with dealing with our big guys. But I told the players to play through that and play good basketball, and that's what we focused on," said coach Tab Baldwin.
"I like it when we get those kinds of experiences because at every level, they have different tactics and we're preparing our players for those."
JP Maguliano carried the fight for Batangas-EAC with 12 points and six rebounds.
Cignal-Ateneo 90 - Tio 19, Ma. Nieto 16, Navarro 13, Go 11, Mi. Nieto 10, Kouame 8, Wong 4, Berjay 3, Belangel 3, Andrade 2, Mamuyac 1, Daves 0.
Batangas-EAC 46 - Maguliano 12, E. Mendoza 9, Tampoc 6, Cadua 5, Taywan 4, Carlos 3, Corilla 2, Oppong 2, De Guzman 2, Dela Pena 1, Gonzales 0, Martin 0, J. Mendoza 0, Boffa 0, Fuentes 0.
Quarterscores: 16-9; 40-19; 65-31; 90-46.