KAI Sotto once again delivered monster numbers as Ateneo whipped De La Salle-Zobel, 88-59, to close in on the No. 2 seed in the UAAP Season 81 juniors' basketball tournament Sunday at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The towering third-year center garnered 26 points, 20 rebounds, three assists, and three blocks to guide the Blue Eaglets to their fifth straight victory.
"Yung game kanina, it was for pride," said coach Reggie Varilla.
The Blue Eaglets now sit in second place with their 10-3 win-loss card, and need a victory over Adamson next Sunday to lock up the No. 2 seed in the Final Four.
"Kailangan pa rin namin manalo next week," said Varilla while keeping his eyes on possible Final Four opponents Adamson or FEU-Diliman. "This season, lahat ng teams, pwede kang talunin at every given time. Malaking advantage yun if we get twice-to-beat [advantage] especially against either FEU na tinalo kami or Adamson na very dangerous."
Forthsky Padrigao also did damage, sparking a 26-point third-quarter runaway for Ateneo as he finished with 15 points, five assists, three rebounds, three steals, and a rejection.
Daniel David added in 11 points and three rebounds, JC Fetalvero got nine points and five boards, as Geo Chiu had seven points and 13 rebounds for the Blue Eaglets.
Ateneo was still in a dogfight with DLSZ in the first half before the blue side turned on the heat in a dizzying 25-6 outburst that made it a one-sided 61-39 affair courtesy of a pair of Chiu freebies.
The lead further swelled to as high as 32, 88-56, after a Joaquin Jaymalin layup with 1:10 to play.
"La Salle really brought it to us in first half. Thankful ako na paglabas namin kanina ng third quarter, we were playing with pride. Doon na kami nakaalagwa," said Varilla.
Meanwhile, the Junior Archers fell to their third straight loss to fall to 4-9. They haven't beaten the Blue Eaglets since 2015.
Ivan Cudiamat paced DLSZ with a double-double of 14 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, an assist, and a steal, while Ranz Unisa got 13 points, four steals, and two boards.
ATENEO 88 - Sotto 26, Padrigao 15, David 11, Fetalvero 9, Chiu 7, Jaymalin 7, Ladimo 5, Espinosa 4, Diaz 4, Coo 0, Narciso 0, Lechoncito 0, De Ayre 0, Salandanan 0, Pangilinan 0.
DLSZ 59 - Cudiamat 14, Unisa 13, Jomalesa 12, Macasaet 6, Subido 5, Luna 3, Villarin 3, Sevilla 2, Milan 1, Danao 0, Marana 0, Pingol 0.
Quarters: 20-15, 36-33, 62-47, 88-59.