ATENEO overcame an early double-digit deficit with superb play on both ends of the floor in the fourth period to beat Far Eastern University, 70-59, on Saturday and clinch a Final Four berth in the UAAP Season 80 basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles kept their clean record intact to go 10-0, and become the first team this season to clinch a semifinal berth.
Ateneo trailed by 12 early in the game, 16-4. The Blue Eagles were also down at the half, 34-27, for the second straight time this season.
But the Blue Eagles played solid in the fourth period, outscoring the Tamaraws, 23-9. FEU was limited to only three field goals in the fourth.
"We didn't start off on the right foot. We had a bad first quarter but we are quite happy with our second, third, and fourth quarters," said Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
"We would like to believe that that's how we like to play especially on the defensive end," he added.
Matt Nieto had 14 points, hitting a triple that put Ateneo ahead by six, 60-54, with 4:50 left.
Raffy Verano also scored 14 points and made a lay-up to increase Ateneo's lead to 10 points, 67-57.
Ron Dennison scored 12, while Arvin Tolentino had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Tamaraws, who slipped to 5-5.
FEU gained control early in the fourth as it opened with a 52-47 lead, but was unable to continue the strong start as Ateneo answered with an 8-0 run capped off by a lay-up by Aaron Black for a 55-52 advantage.
The Tamaraws bled for points and settled at the foul line for baskets.
Ateneo 70 - Ma. Nieto 14, Verano 14, Tolentino 7, Ravena 6, Black 6, Asistio 6, Ikeh 5, Go 5, Mi. Nieto 4, Mamuyac 3, Mendoza 0, Tio 0, Andrade 0.
FEU 59 - Dennison 12, Tolentino 11, Cani 10, Parker 7, Orizu 6, R. Escoto 5, Ebona 4, Inigo 4, Comboy 0, Tuffin 0, Ramirez 0, Stockton 0. Quarters: 12-21, 27-34, 47-50, 70-59.