UAAP Season 84 Men's Basketball: Ateneo vs UP

UAAP Season 84 Men's Basketball: Ateneo vs UP

UAAP Season 84 Men's Basketball: Ateneo vs UP

UAAP Season 84 Men's Basketball: Ateneo vs UP

Defending champion Ateneo de Manila University opened its title retention bid with a 90-81 victory of powerhouse University of the Philippines in the UAAP Season 84 men's basketball tournament, Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Down by as much as 20 early in the fourth quarter, the Fighting Maroons were able to trim down the deficit to just seven after freebies by Zavier Lucero with 2:26 left, 78-85.

But SJ Belangel buried a booming triple at the other end before Terrence Fortea split his charities for UP. Then Belangel drilled another deuce to restore order with 2:16 to go, 90-79.

"We need to respond better... but I guess it's better to learn those lessons during a win," said Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin.

The Maroons cut their 11-point halftime deficit to just five after six unanswered points, courtesy of CJ Cansino and Malick Diouf, 41-46, with 8:18 to go in the third frame.

But the Eagles retaliated right away with a much bigger blast, going on a 19-5 blitz to establish a 19-point lead with 3:38 left.

Debuting Eagle Dave Ildefonso topscored with 19 points with six rebounds and a steal, while Raffy Verano, also a returnee, had 18 points and five rebounds.

Ange Kouame feasted in the paint with 11 points, 13 rebounds, and a block, while Belangel and Gian Mamuyac combined for 19 points with the former adding seven rebounds, and five assists.

Cansino dazzled in his UP debut with 21 points on 53.3 percent shooting to go with five rebounds and three steals against two errors.

Diouf just missed a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds, while Carl Tamayo got 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Ateneo will face Far Eastern University on Tuesday at 1 pm, while UP will battle University of Santo Tomas at 7 pm.

The Scores:

Ateneo 90 - Ildefonso 19, Verano 18, Kouame 11, Belangel 10, Mamuyac 9, Mendoza 6, Tio 5, Chiu 4, Daves 4, Koon 2, Lazaro 2, Andrade 0, Gomez 0, Mallilin 0.

UP 81 - Cansino 21, Diouf 15, Tamayo 13, Rivero 11, Fortea 5, Spencer 4, Cagulangan 4, Lucero 2, Catapusan 2, Abadiano 2, Webb 2, Alarcon 0.

Quarterscores: 26-18, 46-35, 71-54, 90-81. (Dennis Lachica, Sportsmanila Photojournalist)