ATENEO knocked University of the East out of the playoff race with a 77-72 victory on Sunday in the UAAP Season 76 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Kiefer Ravena had 22 points, Chris Newsome scored 19, and Ryan Buenafe had nine points and 11 rebounds for the Blue Eagles, who improved their record to 7-5 and tied University of Santo Tomas for fourth spot.
The Blue Eagles won without head coach Bo Perasol, who served a one-game suspension for a post-game run-in with a fan in their previous game against La Salle.
Ateneo trailed by 10 points at the half but managed to turn things around in the fourth quarter.
“We gave up too many points in the first half,” said Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga. “We talked about playing better defense on Roi Sumang basically … I guess may halong gigil in the first half but in the second half, the players stepped up on D.”
The Red Warriors, one of the favorites prior to the season after winning a preseason tournament, fell to 5-7 and are now out of the contention for the Final Four.
An 18-5 start to the fourth gave the Blue Eagles their first lead of the game, 52-49. Ateneo started the fourth with seven straight points that made it 63-55.
UE had a last-gasp 7-0 run to close in, 69-72, nearing the two-minute mark. But Sumang missed his shots in the final moments of the game and, worse, sustained an injury that kept him out of the endgame.
Sumang had 27 points while Charles Mammie added 11 points and 17 rebounds for the Red Warriors.
Ateneo (77) – Ravena 22, Newsome 19, Buenafe 9, Elorde 7, Tiongson 6, Pessumal 5, Erram 5, Golla 4, Tolentino 0, Enriquez 0.
UE (72) – Sumang 27, Mammie 11, Jumao-as 10, Alberto 10, Noble 5, Santos 4, Sumido 2, Hernandez 2, Javier 1, Olayon 0, Pujante 0, Flores 0, Casajeros 0.
Quarterscores: 14-16; 34-44; 56-55; 77-72.