Blue Eaglets buck slow start to turn back Tiger Cubs, set Filoil Cup finals duel vs Red Robins
Kai Sotto returned to the Blue Eaglets after a three-week US training and helped Ateneo advance to the Filoil Cup finals. Dante Peralta

ATENEO beat University of Santo Tomas, 79-67, on Friday to advance into the finals of the Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup.

SJ Belangel finished with 20 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals, while Dave Ildefonso had 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Blue Eaglets, who overcame a flat start to pick up the win in the semifinals.

Playing for the first time in weeks with Belangel, Ildefonso, and Kai Sotto, the Blue Eaglets trailed 28-19 in the first quarter before regaining their bearings.

Belangel, Ildefonso, and Sotto missed the Blue Eaglets in the latter part of the Filoil preseason due to training abroad including a recent Nike All-Asia Camp in China.

"We missed Kai for three weeks, SJ and Dave for two weeks. So coming into this game, the chemistry wasn't really there yet," said Ateneo coach Joe Silva.

"But in the second half, I told them to play together, play as a team, and do the right things," said Silva.

Jason Credo had 13 points as his three-pointers helped the Blue Eaglets pull away late in the fourth after the Tiger Cubs closed in at 56-53.

Kobe Palencia finished with 17 points for the Tiger Cubs.

The scores:

ADMU 79 - Belangel 20, Ildefonso 13, Credo 13, Manuel 7, Angeles 7, Sotto 5, Chiu 5, Escalona 4, Jaymalin 3, Sahali 1, Fetalvero 1, Tanedo 0, Gusi 0, Lopa 0.

UST 67 - Palencia 17, Balingit 14, Hernandez 14, Dela Cruz 5, Lina 4, Benzonan 3, Manabat 3, Dolendo 2, Narvasa 2, Co 2, Baquial 2, Anunciacion 0, Biag 0.

Quarters: 19-28, 33-38, 49-49, 79-67.

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