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Ateneo secures UAAP F4 bonus

By Jerome Lagunzad

Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. – UST vs La Salle
4 p.m. – Adamson vs NU

Quality over quantity.

That’s exactly what Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin preached yesterday when the Final Four-bound Blue Eagles soared past the University of the East Red Warriors, 97-73, and bagged the first twice-to-beat advantage in the UAAP Season 80 basketball tourney at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Ateneo's Thirdy Ravena scores against UE's Clark Derige  (MB Photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Ateneo’s Thirdy Ravena scores against UE’s Clark Derige (MB Photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Top wingman Thirdy Ravena spearheaded the attack anew with 17 points, 10 of them coming in their second period breakaway , while seven other teammates chipped in at least seven points each as Ateneo streaked to its 11th straight victory and tightened up its grip on the top spot.

Although he downplayed any expectations about a possible 14-game elimination sweep, Baldwin, 59, couldn’t hide his pleasure over the Blue Eagles’ latest dominant performance as they made life miserable for the Red Warriors, specially high-scoring forward Alvin Pasaol.

“What’s most important is the quality of the performance. We always think that if we perform well, the result will take care of itself,” said the American-Kiwi tactician who graced the traditional post-game interview for the first time this season.

While its offense looked fluid which was underscored by 26 assists, with seven cagers accounting for at least two, Ateneo also displayed its unforgiving defensive stance in the middle quarters where UE struggled to get anything going.

The 6-foot-3 Pasaol, who came into the match averaging 28.2 points in their last six outings, bore the brunt of the Blue Eagles’ defense as he was limited to a season-low of eight points on a horrendous 2-of-11 shooting from the field.

“It was really a tough challenge defending Alvin,” said Ravena, one of the Blue Eagles who took his turn slowing down the Red Warriros star. “He’s tough and he’s heavy especially when he bumps you (down low). And he’s really physical.”

ATENEO 97 — Ravena 17, Mendoza 13, Tolentino 12, Verano 12, Asistio 9, Porter 9, Nieto Mi. 7, Ikeh 7, Mamuyac 3, Nieto Ma. 2, Go 2, Black 2, Andrade 2, Tio 0, White 0.

UE 73 — Maloles 20, Olayon 15, Pasaol 8, Bartolome 7, Cullar 5, Varilla 5, Acuno 4, Derige 4, Manalang 3, Conner 2, Cruz 0, Toribio 0.

Quarters: 21-18, 48-35, 71-52, 97-73.