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    Kai Sotto hits go-ahead putback as Ateneo turns back NU to regain UAAP juniors title

    Mar 2, 2018
    Ateneo big man Kai Sotto hit the putback that broke the last deadlock at 48-all.5arlo Cueto

    ATENEO overcame a six-point deficit with a late push to beat National University, 63-58, on Friday and capture the UAAP Season 80 juniors basketball crown at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

    Kai Sotto converted a go-ahead putback with 25.3 seconds left in the fourth to break a 58-58 tie after the Blue Eaglets went on a 10-0 run to get back in the game.

    The searing run was all the Blue Eaglets needed to captured the title after losing the opportunity to complete a season sweep following a loss to the gritty Bullpups in Game Two.

    The 7-foot-2 Sotto was later named Finals MVP after finishing with 19 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks in the title-clinching win.

    The gripping win gave Ateneo its first juniors title since Season ‎77 (2014-2015) and completed a season double for the school after the Blue Eagles' win over rival La Salle in the seniors final.

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    The season sweep was the first for Ateneo since Season ‎73 (2010-2011).

    Ateneo, which swept its elimination-round games, was in danger of suffering one of the biggest meltdowns in UAAP history when it faced a 54-48 deficit against the resolute Bullpups.

    The Blue Eaglets came alive with back-to-back three-point plays from SJ Belangel and Sotto to tie the match at 54. Sotto then scored on a tip-in,while Joaqui Manuel intercepted a pass and converted a fastbreak lay-up for a four-point Ateneo cushion.

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    NU tied the game on Paolo Javillonar's split from the line but Sotto grabbed the rebound off his own miss to give Ateneo the upper hand again. Belangel then made the insurance free throws after an NU miss.

    Belangel had 16 points and eight rebounds in his final game as a Blue Eaglet, turning emotional as he hugged his parents at the lower box section moments after Game Three.

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    Dave Ildefonso added 13 points and nine rebounds in also his last game in high school.

    Terrence Fortea had 14 points, including five straight points in a 7-0 blast that put the Bullpups ahead, 54-48, with four minutes to play.

    The scores:

    Ateneo 63 - Sotto 19, Belangel 16, Ildefonso 13, Credo 4, Manuel 4, Chiu 4, David 3, Escalona 0, Jaymalin 0, Santos 0.

    NU 58 - Fortea 14, Minerva 13, Manalang 8, Oczon 7, Amsali 6, Javillonar 5, Pangilinan 3, Malonzo 2, Coyoca 0.

    Quarterscores: 15-6; 28-23; 44-43; 63-58.

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    Ateneo big man Kai Sotto hit the putback that broke the last deadlock at 48-all.5arlo Cueto
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