UNIVERSITY of the East ended Ateneo’s bid for a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four with a 74-69 win in the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Chris Javier and Clark Derige presided over a 15-5 finishing kick that enabled the Red Warriors to turn the game around and stay in the hunt for the fourth and last berth in the playoffs.
At 5-8 (win-loss), UE still needs both National University and De La Salle (both 6-7) to lose their final games to early semifinalist Far Eastern University to gain a playoff for a Final Four berth.
On the other hand, FEU claimed the last twice-to-beat incentive following the loss of Ateneo, which ended the elimination round with a 9-5 mark after seeing a five-game win run come to an end.
Derige had 17 points while Javier added 13 points. They combined for 13 in the final period when the Red Warriors regained their bearings after losing a 14-point lead.
“We are fighting for survival. Even though we have a slim chance, we still have to be ready against Ateneo and that’s what we did,” said UE coach Derrick Pumaren.
“We kept our poise when we were not making the baskets. We just have to get back to our old reliable which is playing defense."
UE will cap its campaign in the eliminations with a game against University of the Philippines, hoping that the game will still have a bearing by the time it is played.
“Habang may buhay, may pag-asa. What’s important is we have to end the season on a strong note,” said Pumaren.
Kiefer Ravena had 28 points for the Blue Eagles, who settled for the No. 3 seeding in the Final Four.
Ateneo trailed, 26-35, at halftime after scoring just five in the second quarter before a big third quarter turnaround that cut UE’s lead to two points.
Ateneo even tasted the lead briefly, 60-56, in the fourth only to lose it in the end.
UE (74) — Derige 17, Javier 13, De Leon 10, Batiller 9, Yu 8, P. Varilla 7, Palma 6, Charcos 4, J. Varilla 0, Sta. Ana 0, Cudal 0.
Ateneo (69) — Ravena 28, Pessumal 10, Black 8, Wong 5, Ikeh 4, Capacio 4, Mi. Nieto 4, V. Tolentino 2, A. Tolentino 2, Babilonia 2, Gotladera 0, Pingoy 0, Go 0, Cani 0.
Quarterscores: 21-15, 35-26, 53-51, 74-71.