UNIVERSITY of the East coach Boycie Zamar felt like everything was all a dream on Thursday.
Well, it wasn't.
As hard as it was to comprehend for Zamar and most everybody else, a UE team that could win just one of its first nine games in the UAAP basketball tournament this season has now posted its second victory in a row.
To make it more special, the win came at the expense of four-time champion Ateneo, 79-77, and the heroics were supplied by the same player who hit the game-winner a week ago against University of the Philippines.
“I just wanted to slap myself later sa dugout,” said Zamar.
In the right place at the right time, the gangling Javier found himself open on the left flank after Roi Sumang drove the lane and attracted the defense as the final seconds ticked away.
As soon as Sumang made the pass, Javier calmly swished the medium-range jumper with 0.4 second left then turned to the UE faithful in the MOA Arena gallery, pointing proudly to his jersey and his heart.
The play mirrored what happened in their previous game against UP when the unheralded Javier hit an improbable three-pointer at the buzzer to win it for the Warriors.
“The first win was sweet but the second win is much sweeter,” Zamar said.
Ateneo guard Juami Tiongson’s desperate heave wasn’t even close as the Warriors celebrated their second consecutive win under Zamar, who saw the team improve to 3-8 (win-loss) after replacing Jerry Codinera.
Gene Belleza topscored for the Warriors with a career-high 28 points as he continued to thrive in Zamar's system.
“We have nothing to lose,” said Belleza. “We are so happy but we are not satisfied. We have a lot more to work on to improve as a team.”
Sumang had 15 points and 10 assists while Javier had 15 points.
Zamar also credited UE’s zone defense for the win with Ateneo only converting three of 17 three-point attempts despite winning the rebound battle (52-34).
Ateneo led by five points, 63-68, nearing the final five-minute mark but the Blue Eagles could not put UE away. Kiefer Ravena scored on a putback with 7.7 seconds left for the game's final deadlock.
Greg Slaughter had 24 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks for Ateneo, which saw an eight-game winning streak snapped but remained on top of the standings at 9-2.
UE (79) – Belleza 28, Sumang 15, Javier 15, Santos 11, Sumido 7, Duran 3, Villarias 0, Olayon 0, Hernandez 0, Galanza 0.
ATENEO (77) – Slaughter 24, Ravena 15, Chua 11, Gonzaga 9, Tiongson 8, Salva 6, Golla 2, Buenafe 2, Sumalinog 0, Pessumal 0, Elorde 0.
Quarterscores: 10-19; 34-36; 53-56; 79-77.