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Eaglets stretch win streak to 11

By Jerome Lagunzad

Working behind a big surge in the second half, Ateneo repeated over archrival La Salle-Zobel, 93-73, yesterday to stretch its perfect start to 11 matches in the UAAP Season 80 juniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.

After trailing by as many as five points for a so-so showing in the first half, the Blue Eaglets turned it up in the third canto behind SJ Belangel and did enough down the stretch to foil the Junior Archers’ upset bid.

Belangel knocked down a game-high 21 points, 13 of them coming in the third canto where they outscored their rivals 28-14, while center Kai Sotto led the bench mob with 16 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two assists to help Ateneo’s cause.

“Our reserves contributed significantly. When we gave them the opportunity, they responded. We are going to need them to contribute as we go deeper into the tourney to relieve some pressure off our starters,” said Ateneo coach Joe Silva.

Defending champion Far Eastern University-Diliman gained a fair share of the spotlight as the Baby Tamaraws dodged Adamson Baby Falcons’ bullet, 72-71, to get back on track.

Daniel Celzo came up big with 17 points and nine rebounds while the dynamic duo of RJ Abarrientos and LJ Gonzales combined for 31 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists and four steals to help FEU improve its mark to 6-5, moving up to solo third.

Joem Sabandal led all scorers with 22 points and tried his best to lead the Baby Falcons’ fightback from a 12-point deficit, pulling them the closest at 71-72 with less than five seconds remaining.

However, the Baby Tamaraws came through with a big defensive stop in the waning moments, causing the Baby Falcons to move out of the “Magic Four” for the meantime with a 5-6 card.

Raven Cortez finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds while fellow reserves Chris Calimag added 13 points and Nat Consejo had 13 that all went for naught as La Salle-Zobel suffered its eighth loss in 11 starts.