Defending champion Ateneo survives scare from young UST

Defending champion Ateneo holds on to survive a hot shooting UST team (UAAP Photo)

By: Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Ateneo Blue Eagles withstood a young and emerging UST Growling Tigers Team, 71-70, in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s basketball.

The Growling Tigers came out of the locker room sprinting as they burned rubber, running and gunning to dictate the pace in their favor.

The powerhouse Blue Eagles found difficulty in containing coach Aldin Ayo’s well-oiled artillery early on, as they struggled to run up and down defending the younger team.

Coach Tab Baldwin made adjustments and managed to keep things in control, as he somehow matched the fast lineup of UST with his small lineup.

UST led entering into the half and never ran out of firepower, knocking down shots from everywhere on the hardwood.

Momentum swung Ateneo’s side when Ange Kouame finally got his stride, doubling up his effort on the defensive end, grabbing loose balls to secure second-chance opportunities for the Blue Eagles.

With three minutes left in the game, Kouame tipped in a basket off a Thirdy Ravena miss that put them back ahead, 68-67.

With less than 15 seconds left, UST captain CJ Cansino committed an unsportsmanlike foul, but Gian Mamuyac was not able to convert the two shots from the charity stripe.

Ateneo was still with possession and UST fouled to extend the game.

Thirdy Ravena then scored two crucial free throws, 70-67, to put Ateneo ahead with a comfortable cushion.

UST got a chance to equalize but they turned the ball over, with Matt Nieto splitting his shots from the free throw line for a 71-67 lead.

Renz Subido hit a fadeaway shot from deep but time wasn’t in their favor, ending the match 71-70.