Ateneo de Manila University claimed the first Final Four ticket after demolishing University of Santo Tomas by a UAAP record 50 points, 101-51, in the Season 84 men's basketball tournament, Thursday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
This 50-point crushing, the biggest margin since the computerization of stats in 2003, broke De La Salle University's 43-point win against the Growling Tigers as well, 99-56, on October 23, 2016.
"I think the difference in the scoreline is a reflection that our coaching staff asked for 40 minutes of performance from our players, and that's something that's plagued us this year," said Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin.
The Blue Eagles went on a scorching first half, going ahead by 25 at the half, 46-21.
But Ateneo even took it up a notch in the third quarter with a storm so strong, outscoring the Growling Tigers, 34-15, for a 44-point lead heading into the final frame, 80-36.
Raffy Verano led the balanced Blue Eagles offense with 18 points and seven rebounds and went a plus-37 on the floor.
SJ Belangel dropped 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting from deep to go with five assists, while Geo Chiu added 14 points and eight rebounds in his best performance in the collegiate level.
The Blue Eagles remained unblemished at 10-0 and continued their UAAP winning streak which now stands at 36 games.
This is Ateneo's seventh-straight Final Four appearance with Season 76 the last time it missed the postseason.
Nic Cabañero was the lone UST cager in double digits with 18 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, going 8-of-16.
The Growling Tigers slid to seventh place at 3-7.
Ateneo seeks its 11th straight win on Saturday against National University at 12:30 pm. UST, meanwhile, will face the streaking Adamson University in the morning at 10 am.
ATENEO 101 -- Verano 18, Belangel 16, Chiu 14, Lazaro 12, Ildefonso 11, Kouame 10, Koon 9, Andrade 6, Padrigao 5, Mamuyac 0, Tio 0, Gomez 0, Daves 0.
UST 51 -- Cabanero 18, Manaytay 9, Fontanilla 8, Manalang 7, Concepcion 5, Yongco 2, Santos 2, Ando 0, Herrera 0, Gomez de Liano 0, Garing 0, Mantua 0, Pangilinan 0.
Quarterscores: 22-8, 46-21, 80-36, 101-51. (Dennis Lachica, Sportsmanila Photojournalist)