By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno
MANILA — Ateneo Blue Eagles survived a gallant stand from Adamson Falcons and went home with an 80-74 win in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Wednesday night.
Exactly one year after they suffered their last UAAP defeat, the Blue Eagles came close to seeing their 19-game winning streak from last season snapped after the Soaring Falcons entered halftime ahead, 37-34, after a strong second quarter.
But Ateneo went on a third-quarter juggernaut, outscoring Adamson, 29-13, to take a 63-50 lead entering the fourth.
The Soaring Falcons still tried to mount a comeback, drawing to within four, 71-75, with 21 seconds left, but the Blue Eagles eventually held on.
Thirdy Ravena made 23 points, five rebounds, and four assists for Ateneo, which moved up to 9-0 this season, assuring the team of at least a playoff in the Final 4.
Val Chauca and Jerrick Ahanmisi each scored 17 markers for Adamson, which fell to 3-6.
Meanwhile, the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers posted the most lopsided win of the year after handing University of the East Warriors a 101-73 beating earlier in the day.
The Growling Tigers pulled away in the second quarter, outscoring the Red Warriors, 29-11, for a 55-29 cushion that they never let go.
Zachy Huang and Soulemane Chabi Yo each scored 22 points for UST, which is now solely in third place at 5-4, a half-game behind second placer University of the Philippines.
Alex Diakhite had a game-high 24 points for UE, whose string of wins came to an abrupt end at two, slipping to seventh place at 3-6.
In the curtain-raiser, National University recovered in overtime to beat Far Eastern University, 85-79.
Coming alive in the second and third quarters to take a 62-47 lead up to the fourth, the Bulldogs fizzled as the Tamaraws, who nearly succumbed to the Fighting Maroons’ comeback bid on Sunday night, made a comeback of their own to force overtime at 71-all.
However, NU found its stroke again in the extra five minutes to secure its second win of the season, the first against FEU in the first round.
Dave Ildefonso erupted for 27 points for the Bulldogs.
Barkley Eboña made 15 markers for the Tamaraws, who fell to the fifth spot at 4-5. (PNA)