ATENEO escaped University of the East by the skin of its teeth, pulling off a 69-66 win in overtime on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena to clinch a Final Four seat in the UAAP Season 85 men's basketball tournament.
Dave Ildefonso's crucial plays in regulation kept the Blue Eagles alive, with his three in the final 43.3 seconds of the fourth quarter capping a 10-4 run to tie the game at 62.
He also tipped the ball away from Guillan Gilbuena to stop the Red Warriors from having the final say in the final seconds of the final canto.
Ildefonso also made possible one of the two crucial offensive boards in the final seconds of overtime to preserve the victory and cap a 12-point, 14-rebound performance that was also laced by three assists and three steals.
Ateneo's win improved it to a 9-3 card with this fourth consecutive win, while also booting UE out of Final Four contention at 4-9.
"Sometimes winning ugly is not necessarily the way that you wanna win, but it's just as valuable in the standings, and the standings are extremely important right now with the other results," said coach Tab Baldwin as his side hacked out this W.
Ange Kouame got four of his 12 points in overtime, including the go-ahead basket in the final 1:46 to make it a 67-66 lead for the Katipunan side. He also grabbed 12 rebounds and had two blocks.
Kai Ballungay topscored for the Blue Eagles with 14 points and seven boards to extend their active Final Four streak to eight straight seasons now.
Forthsky Padrigao made the insurance freebies with 4.5 to play as he wound up with nine points, seven steals, five rebounds, and five assists in the win.
JM Tulabut had a chance to force a second overtime, but his trey failed to find the bottom of the net as time expired.
It spoiled a career night from Rey Remogat who had a career-best 21 points, three assists, two rebounds, and two steals.
Luis Villegas chimed in 11 points, nine rebounds, five steals, four assists, and two blocks in the losing cause.
ATENEO 69 -- Ballungay 14, Ildefonso 12, Kouame 12, Padrigao 9, Andrade 6, Gomez 6, Lazaro 5, Koon 3, Daves 2, Garcia 0, Chiu 0.
UE 66 -- Remogat 21, Villegas 11, Sawat 6, Pagsanjan 5, K. Paranada 5, Stebens 5, Payawal 5, Gilbuena 4, N. Paranada 2, Tulabut 2, Beltran 0, Alcantara 0.
Quarters: 18-11, 29-30, 47-50, 62-62, 69-66.