The Philippine Star

EA­GLES SOAR TO FI­NAL FOUR

- By JOHN BRYAN ULANDAY Sports · Thomas Aquinas · Stockton

Un­beaten Ate­neo once again as­serted its might ver­sus La Salle, re­peat­ing with a 77-69 win to claim the first Fi­nal Four seat in the 82nd UAAP men’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment at the MOA Arena yes­ter­day.

Chal­lenged by the Green Archers’ sev­eral up­ris­ing at­tempts, the Blue Ea­gles took care of busi­ness and scored their 10th straight win, mov­ing four games away from a sweep in the dou­ble-round elims.

Adrian Wong chalked up 18 points on four triples in­clud­ing the big trey in the last two min­utes to cap the Ea­gles’ 10-3 killer run send­ing the Archers to a fifth loss against four wins.

Thirdy Ravena fired 13 mark­ers and added seven boards while Ange Kouame piled up 10-14-3 for the three-peat seek­ing Ate­neo which bagged its 20th straight win from last sea­son.

But coach Tab Bald­win was far from be­ing con­tented as se­cur­ing a Fi­nal Four berth is just part of their ul­ti­mate cham­pi­onship goal.

“The fo­cus is on the next game. We don’t worry what has been ac­com­plished. We just need to keep play­ing, keep win­ning and keep striv­ing to get bet­ter. We don’t stop. We’re not think­ing about play­offs. We ac­com­plished that (Fi­nal Four) but that’s not the goal yet,” he said as the Ea­gles set sight in mop­ping up the whole elim­i­na­tion round with four games left against FEU, UE, NU and UP.

Mean­while, LJ Gonzales poured in 17 points and six re­bounds as Far East­ern U gained a piece of third spot with lat­est vic­tim Santo To­mas af­ter run­ning away in the fi­nal canto on the way to a 72-58 vic­tory over the Tigers.

Royce Al­forque (16), Alec Stock­ton (10) and Rey Bienes (9) put in key sup­port for the Ta­ma­raws who bounced back from their tough 85-79 over­time loss against NU ear­lier this week to im­prove at 5-5.

“We’ve proven that we can com­pete with the top teams but we’re hop­ing that we can do that on a con­sis­tent ba­sis,” said FEU coach Olsen Racela. The scores: First Game Ate­neo 77 – Wong 18, Ravena 13, Kouame 10, Navarro 9, Ma­muyac 6, Be­lan­gel 5, Mi. Ni­eto 5, Daves 3, Ma. Ni­eto 3, Tio 3, Go 2.

La Salle 69 – Ser­rano 15, Bal­tazar 12, Cara­cut 11, Malonzo 10, Mele­cio 10, Manuel 7, Bartlett 2, Bates 2, Lo­jera 0. Quar­ter­scores: 19-15, 36-30, 55-50, 77-69. Sec­ond Game FEU 72 – Gonzales 17, Al­forque 16, Stock­ton 10, Bienes 9, Com­boy 7, Tor­res 5, Cani 4, Tuf­fin 3, Tchuente 1, Ebona 0, Man­tua 0.

UST 58 – Paraiso 12, Abando 11, Huang 11, Chabi Yo 7, Nonoy 6, Cansino 5, Su­bido 4, Con­cep­cion 2, Ando 0, Bataller 0, Bordeos 0, Cosejo 0, Cua­jao 0.

Quar­ter­scores: 14-10, 26-23, 45-39, 72-58.

 ?? JUN MEN­DOZA ?? Ate­neo’s An­gelo Kouame and Thirdy Ravena and Bran­don Bates of La Salle all soar high in a re­bound bat­tle.
JUN MEN­DOZA Ate­neo’s An­gelo Kouame and Thirdy Ravena and Bran­don Bates of La Salle all soar high in a re­bound bat­tle.

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