JOAQUIN Manuel scored 18 points and connected on a crucial triple late in the game to lift Ateneo to a 75-70 victory over Far Eastern University-Diliman to force a playoff for the No. 2 spot in the UAAP Season 79 juniors basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Manuel, younger brother of former University of the Philippines cager Jett Manuel, buried a triple with 1:51 left in the contest which turned out to be the go-ahead basket for the Blue Eaglets.
The Blue Eaglets were able to keep the lead to improve their mark to 11-3 at the end of the eliminations.
More importantly, the Blue Eaglets forced a match for the second-seed in the Final Four against the same Baby Tamaraws squad for the right to gain the twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals, in what has become a virtual best-of-three affair between the two teams.
Jason Credo had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Eaglets, while SJ Belangel had 13 points. Rookie cager Kai Sotto hauled a game-high 14 rebounds in the crucial match-up.
Rhon Abarrientos had 14 points, while Louell Gonzales had 13 points for the Baby Tamaraws.