Ateneo draws first blood vs. UP in UAAP finals

By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno

December 1, 2018, 8:35 pm

MANILA -- The Ateneo de Manila University came up big late in Game 1 of the UAAP men's basketball finals and turned back University of the Philippines, 88-79, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Saturday night.

Behind a second half blast from Matt Nieto and a better defensive adjustment on Jun Manzo in the fourth quarter, the Blue Eagles held on despite the Fighting Maroons putting up a gallant stand to go 1-0 up in their best-of-three series.

Ateneo was on track to blow off UP early on as it took a 26-18 first quarter lead.

However, Manzo came alive in the second period to even help the Maroons take a 35-32 lead before the Eagles restored order just before halftime.

Despite Bright Akhuetie hyperextending his left knee after getting entangled with Ange Kouame late in the third quarter, UP stayed close with Ateneo in the quarter even if Nieto began heating up, but the latter pulled away with a 12-1 run led by Nieto within the final five minutes of the game.

Nieto finished with 27 points, one assist, and three steals, while Thirdy Ravena came close to a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists with two steals and two blocks for the Blue Eagles, who can claim their second straight title on Wednesday in Game 2 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Manzo finished with 19 points, four rebounds, and three assists for the Fighting Maroons, but he was held scoreless in the final 10 minutes.

Akhuetie played through the injured knee and came up with 10 markers, five rebounds, and three steals.

The scores:

Ateneo (88) – Nieto Ma. 27, Ravena 21, Kouame 7, Verano 6, Tio 6, Mamuyac 5, Asistio 4, Nieto Mi. 4, Wong 3, Mendoza 3, Go 2, Navarro 0.

UP (79) – Manzo 19, Gomez de Liaño Ju. 17, Gomez de Liaño Ja. 11, Akhuetie 10, Dario 9, Desiderio 5, Tungcab 3, Vito 3, Prado 2, Murrell 0, Jaboneta 0, Gozum 0.

Quarterscores: 26-18, 39-38, 63-61, 88-79 (PNA)