ATENEO bounced back from a disappointing defeat with a 89-65 trouncing of preseason favorite National University on Sunday in the 75th UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Eagles improved to 2-1 win-loss as they atoned for their 70-71 loss to University of Santo Tomas last Thursday which saw a 19-point lead first-half lead slip through their hands.
“Our concentration in the last two days was to keep our focus for 40 minutes,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black. “We played very well for 20 minutes against UST but we relaxed and didn’t play good defense or offense. We just wanted to play a complete 40 minutes today.”
Expected to be an interesting battle between two of the favorites this season, Ateneo turned the game into a no-contest against an NU side which was coming off a big win in a preseason tournament.
“I reminded the players that our offense may be up and down but we have to be consistent with our defense. Whenever we go to battle, we should always be focused on our defense just in case the offense wasn’t clicking and I think the guys did a good job of doing that,” Black said.
The offense did click in the first half as Ateneo had the game in the bag with a commanding first-half lead, thanks to its 58.8 percent shooting from the field for a 55-34 advantage after two quarters.
NU was contained to only 36.4 percent field goal shooting in the game as the Bulldogs trailed by as many as 26 points, 57-83, in the fourth.
Nico Salva had 21 points while Kiefer Ravena added 17 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals. Greg Slaughter atoned for foul-plagued outing against UST last Thursday with 14 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks on Sunday.
It was Ateneo’s ninth straight victory against NU, seven of which came with a winning margin of 20 points or more.
Bobby Ray Parks had 22 points before fouling out while Emmanuel Mbe chipped in 14 for the Bulldogs, who dropped to 1-1.
NU’s defeat also allowed Far Eastern University (2-0) to take the solo lead and become the only remaining undefeated team so far in the season after beating La Salle in the first game.
ATENEO 89 — Salva 21, Ravena 17, Slaughter 14, Chua 12, Gonzaga 9, Tiongson 8, Elorde 3, Buenafe 3, Erram 2, Porter 0, Pessumal 0, Capacio 0.
NU 65 — Parks 22, Mbe 14, Villamor 10, Ignacio 6, Rono 5, De Guzman 2, Betayene 2, Alolino 2, Khobuntin 1, Javillonar 1, Rosario 0, Neypes 0, Labing-isa 0.
Quarterscores: 28-17; 55-34; 72-54; 89-65.