UP fought until the Blue Eagles took off for good late in the 4th
Ateneo can end the elimination rounds with a 14-0 record with another win against La Salle.
Sure, the league-leading Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles were able to keep their unblemished state after beating the UP Fighting Maroons, 96-82- in a game that wasn't decided until the final quarter the Blue Eagles, like they did in their previous games, allowed their opponents to stay within striking distance and only take control of the game in the 4th quarter.
Sure, the Blue Eagles now have the chance to sweep the elimination rounds and book their ticket to the Finals that will equip them with a thrice-to-beat advantage.
However, don't be fooled by the final score as the game was competitive as UP led as much as 12 points before Ateneo came back charging.
How competitive the round 2 of the "Battle of Katipunan" was?
Below are the numbers:
3-Point Shooting: What Kept UP in the Game. And Not.
Keep in mind that it was actually the UP Fighting Maroons who first beat the defending champions back in their first round. That game saw the Fighting Maroons took 35 shots from beyond the arc and made 16 of them. Against the same team in their second-round encounter, Bo Perasol's boys only took 32 shots. The result: the Maroons lost.
Against the Blue Eagles, UP was relatively hot from the three-point line in the first half as they made 50% of their 16 attempts from deep but come the second half, the Fighting Maroons faltered from outside as they only made 3 of 15 from that area, a forgettable 20% shooting.
Sure, Ateneo was even worse off the three-point line as they only made 7 out of their 24 attempts from that distance but if you missed 18 threes in the second half alone, you cannot expect to win.
Ateneo's Bench Stepped Up
Sure, Thirdy Ravena only made 2 of his 11 attempts and only scored 10 points but he didn't have to score more as Isaac Go and Gian Mayumac each scored 13 points, leading Tab Baldwin's bench troopers. In fact, these two Blue Eagles off the bench almost outscored the entire bench of UP who only managed 29 points, a far cry to the entire bench of Ateneo who combined for 49 of the Eagles' 96 points.
Ateneo Shut Down Desiderio
Paul Desiderio had 16 points against Ateneo yesterday but only had 3 points after halftime. This can be associated with the amazing job of Third Ravena and Matt Nieto who took turns in defending and frustrating UP's main guy on offense. Overall, the Eagles' defensive efforts were not wasted as they were rewarded with their 13th win in 13 games- all thanks to limiting Desiderio to 33% shooting from the field, including 30% from 3.
The Blue Eagles will have the opportunity to sweep the elimination rounds assuming they beat La Salle anew. But knowing that this is another Ateneo-La Salle slugfest, anything can happen especially when we look at how their first-round encounter ended, Ateneo can only hope that Thirdy Ravena will regain his groove come Sunday because the Eagles will need everyone on board especially when defending Big Ben Mbala.
Mind you, folks, it was Ateneo who snapped La Salle's 13-game winning streak last season. Now? La Salle has the firepower to return the favor.