JUAMI Tiongson nailed a crucial jumper and made a last-second steal as Ateneo captured its fifth straight UAAP seniors basketball title with a 65-62 win over University of Santo Tomas on Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tiongson’s heroics allowed the Blue Eagles to make history as the first team since the University of the East Red Warriors' historic run of seven titles from 1965 to 1971 to win at least five straight championships.
Tiongson nailed a running shot with one minute and 12 seconds to go for a 62-58 lead. With the Tigers enjoying possession trailing by three points, Tiongson intercepted Tata Bautista’s pass to Jeric Fortuna and dribbled the time away to seal the win.
The victory was a fitting sendoff for Norman Black, who will leave the Eagles to take over the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters in the PBA this season.
“Sometimes, these games come down to big plays in the end and we came up with big shots,” said Black. “It was a great game. It could have gone either way. Down the stretch, we really had to make big plays to win."
The Blue Eagles did hit big shots in the end which was started by Tiongson, who converted that important basket with one second on the shot clock, after the Tigers had came within two points.
Kiefer Ravena, who finished with a game-high 22 points, nailed a pull-up jumper with 30.4 seconds left to make it a 65-59 lead.
“Kiefer once again made a crucial shot for us and that separated us in the end. The defense was good the entire game, we were able to slow them down. We just had enough offense to win,” said Black.
After Fortuna converted a three-pointer to cut the deficit to three points, Tiongson nearly became the goat when he missed two free throws with 19.6 ticks on the clock.
But Tiongson made up for the disappointment at the line by committing the defensive gem in the waning seconds of the game witnessed by 20,189 spectators at the Big Dome.
Nico Salva was adjudged as the Finals MVP for the second straight season after his 30-point performance in Ateneo’s 83-78 win over UST in Game One.
Fortuna finally exploded for the Tigers with 20 points but he was the lone double-digit scorer for the Tigers.
Ateneo (65) – Ravena 22, Slaughter 15, Tiongson 10, Salva 8, Chua 6, Gonzaga 3, Sumalinog 1, Golla 0, Elorde 0, Buenafe 0.
UST (62) – Fortuna 20, Teng 9, Lo 8, Abdul 8, Ferrer 7, Bautista 6, Mariano 4, Vigil 0, Pe 0, Afuang 0.
Quarterscores: 13-14; 29-29; 47-46; 65-62.