Atenio knocks out UST for first-round sweep as rivals fight to keep pace

Tyler TO (right) was aimed at Atenio while on court against the University of Santo Thomas.  -UAP Media

Tyler TO (right) was aimed at Atenio while on court against the University of Santo Thomas. -UAP Media

Defending champion Atenio in the first round exactly as everyone expected.

Above the mound. Undefeated. Looking invincible every inch.

The Blue Eagles beat another enemy, completing a first-round sweep of the UAAP season 84 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena with a 91-80 victory over the University of Santo Thomas on Saturday.

And Ateneo is not done yet.

“We have dropped 80 points and that is too much for us. We learned a lot in the first round, “said Atenio’s assistant coach Sandy Arespakochaga.

“We need to improve to get to the next round.”

The bad news

This is bad news for teams that have emerged as potential Atenio collars.

University of the Philippines leans towards Javier Lucero, Carl Tamayo and Joel Kagulangan, near Far Eastern U, 83-76. The Maroons have won for the sixth time in a row. UP’s winning streak has not been so long in almost two decades, leading them to a 6-1 record at the end of the first round for second place.

FEU dropped to 3-4.

Lucero delivers a clutch triple that gives UP a 76-70 lead in the last two minutes.

Tamayo and Cagulangan fired clutch shots to block the FEU rally and cement the win.

La Salle, meanwhile, bankers Justin Baltzer’s vital block and Evan Nell’s clutch triple to save an angry Adamson side, 61-58.

“I don’t think it’s a good game because statistically, I had three turnovers and one assist,” said the transfer from San Beda, who had 12 points from four triplets.

The Archers, who trailed by eight points in the fourth quarter, survived the stretch with Nell’s triple, Baltazar’s defense and Joachim Manuel’s free throw.

National U has done a brief job at Eastern Happles University, 77-61, to finish its first round on a high note.

The Bulldogs have won their fourth of seven games, just one step down from the Archers’ 5-2 slate. “It’s a big win for us,” said NU coach Jeff Napa. “We will take this momentum to the second round.”

Bench depth

The Eagles used their depth to send the Tigers to their fifth rate in seven games.

Chris Koon’s triple late in the first period had Atenio leading 25-12 and then in the second period Matt Davis had a late assist that gave the Blue Eagles a 50-40 spread, with 53 seconds left before the break.

There was a flurry of contributions from contributors — BJ Andre, Tyler T.O., Angie Kaume, and Josh Lazaro বাল throwing buckets into a helpless US defense.

Ato finished with a 20-point lead in the TO-7 to lead Atenio from the field. INQ

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