Humbled and left shell-shocked in their first-round defeat, the Ateneo Blue Eagles bounced back with a rousing 62-48 win over the Adamson Falcons in UAAP Season 81 action Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Isaac Go found his groove offensively and ended up with a season-high 12 points while also grabbing seven rebounds. Thirdy Ravena chipped in with 10 points and nine boards. More than the leading scorers, it was the collective defensive effort that paved the way for the Blue Eagles.
The defending champions came into Season 81 as immediate title-favorites but were caught flat-footed in their very first game versus the Falcons, losing 70-74. On Sunday, it was a much different scenario.
"Coming to the game, we knew we had a tough match-up, and we had to make sure that our defense, especially, holds up," said coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
The Blue Eagles held their opponent to just 48 points and dragged them into a slow, defensive, grind-out affair. They only shot 31 percent but the Falcons were worse at 27 percent.
"We recognize that this Adamson team is a very disciplined team they're a well-oiled machine, they got a couple of good offensive players and their defensive system is very good. Coach Franz (Pumaren) and his coaching staff have developed this team well. Our emphasis was to make sure we can hold our own defensively," explained Arespacochaga.
"We had to make sure that guys like (Jerrick) Ahanmisi and (Sean) Manganti won't get going. We're happy with the fact that we played good defense against them, even Papi Sarr," he added.
Ahanmisi had 10 points but only hit four shots from the field. Big men Manganti and Sarr combined for just 15 points on 4-for-20 shooting.
With the defense clicking, Ateneo picked up its offense in the third quarter and led by as many as 20 points. The Falcons were determined to erase the deficit in the fourth quarter but the Blue Eagles extinguished every rally and held on.
Ateneo remains on top of the standings with its 10-2 record. Adamson meanwhile remains in second place at 8-3.
ATENEO 62 - Go 12, Ravena 10, Asistio 9, Tio 6, Kouame 6, Verano 5, Nieto Ma 5, Mamuyac 4, Nieto Mi 3, Belangel 2, Wong 0, Mendoza 0, Navarro 0
ADAMSON 48 - Lastimosa 13, Ahanmisi 10, Sarr 9, Manganti 6, Mojica 3, Camacho 2, Magbuhos V 2, Zaldivar 2, Macion 1, Pingoy 0, Catapusan 0, Colonia 0, Bernardo 0, Maata 0, Magbuhos W 0
QUARTER SCORES: 9-9, 26-17, 46-31, 62-48
- The 48 points by the Falcons is their lowest output under coach Franz Pumaren.
- Brothers Mike and Matt Nieto returned to action for the Blue Eagles after missing four straight games.
ADMU - Nov 11. (Sun) vs DLSU Green Archers at Araneta Coliseum
ADU - Nov. 10 (Sat) vs UE Red Warriors at Araneta Coliseum