Kai Sotto crowns triple-double with 11 blocks as Ateneo takes Game One over NU
Kai Sotto put together a triple-double for the Blue Eaglets in Game One. Marlo Cueto

KAI Sotto posted a monster triple-double as Ateneo stormed back from a double-digit deficit to take Game One of the UAAP Season 80 juniors basketball finals, 86-70, over National University on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Center.

Sotto ended up with 22 points, 16 rebounds and 11 blocks, the first triple-double of its kind in the juniors division, to power the Blue Eaglets to the comeback victory.

The win, though, didn’t come easy for the Blue Eaglets, who after a sweep of the eliminations came out rusty following a 12-day break and consequently trailed, 30-17, late in the second period.

That all changed when Sotto started dominating the paint alongside the offensive brilliance of Sean Ildefonso and SJ Belangel, as they went on a 33-5 tear to take a 50-35 lead in the third period.

"Ang experience, nasa NU. Nung first quarter, medyo shaky kasi nobody in our team made it to the Finals yet. I called a timeout and said, ‘O, at least nakita niyo na kung paano sa Finals, let’s just do what we do best,'" said Ateneo head coach Joe Silva.

"Nung past 8-10 months, we knew who we were gonna face. Past 8-10 months, we were preparing for NU," he added.

Belangel was brilliant across the board with 17 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals

Ildefonso, on the other hand, scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, making four three pointers in that stretch.

Terrence Fortea led the Bullpups with 21 points as Miguel Oczon added 13.

Game Two is set on Tuesday, 4 p.m. with the Blue Eaglets targeting their first title since 2015.

 

THE SCORES

ATENEO 86 – Sotto 22, Ildefonso 21, Belangel 17, Credo 13, David 8, Escalona 3, Manuel 2, Angeles 0, Chiu 0, Jaymalin 0, Lopa 0

NU 70 – Fortea 21, Oczon 13, Amsali 11, Gonzales 8, Minerva 8, Malonzo 4, Manalang 2, Felicida 2, Coyoca 1, Javillonar 0, Pangilinan 0

Quarterscores: 11-17, 31-31, 61-51, 86-70

Follow the writer on Twitter: @CAJacinto11