by Jonas Terrado
Games Saturday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. – Adamson vs UP
4 p.m. – NU vs UE
Ateneo made a strong case for a sixth straight UAAP basketball championship yesterday when the Blue Eagles tore tournament leader Far Eastern University Tamaraws to shreds, 92-73, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles have been playing a roller-coaster season and appeared to be just a shadow of the team that captured a rare five straight championships.
But yesterday, the defending champions suddenly bloomed into a killer machine, taking the game out of the Tamaraws from the opening tip and never let up till the final buzzer.
Juami Tiongson, Kiefer Ravena and Chris Newsome played as though they were on a mission and sparked a big first quarter burst that set the tone for the day’s rout.
Tiongson had his best performance of the season, finishing with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting while Ravena added 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists as Ateneo forged a tie with archrival La Salle for third spot at 6-4.
The win could not have come at a more opportune time. Ateneo will face arch rival La Salle on Sunday in a game pitting two teams that finally are nearly equal after many years that saw the Blue Eagles treat the Green Archers like a door mat.
“I believe the kind of winning mentality that Ateneo has is starting to come into play,” said Ateneo coach Bo Perasol, who was coming off surgery to remove kidney stones.
Smiles are back in the faces of Ateneo and its fans after a 0-3 record to open the campaign. Since then, the Eagles have won six of their next seven games.
Against the vaunted Tamaraws, the Eagles stormed to a 23-8 lead with over two minutes left in the first quarter and never looked back.
The Ateneo lead ballooned to 33 points on two separate occasions in the third, the last at 73-40 on a basket by role player Vince Tolentino.
In the other game, University of Santo Tomas snapped a three-game losing skid with an 80-67 win over Adamson despite the absence of Jeric Teng due to a hamstring injury.
Karim Abdul had 19 points and 12 rebounds while Ed Daquiaog added 17 points as the injury-ridden Tigers kept their Final Four hopes alive with a 5-5 record, while dealing the Falcons (3-8) their sixth straight loss.