Ateneo win UST for 5th straight UAAP championship
The Ateneo Blue Eagles won their fifth straight UAAP title after defeating University of Santo Tomas, 65-62, in Game Two to sweep the Season 75 finals Thursday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Sophomore Kiefer Ravena led the charge for Ateneo, hitting 21 points including a crucial basket with 30 seconds left that pushed the Blue Eagles lead to six points.
Jeric Fortuna, who scored 20 points for UST, hit a three-pointer to cut the Ateneo lead to three points with 21 seconds. UST sent Juami Tiongson to the line, but the Ateneo point guard missed both free throws, giving the Tigers an opportunity to tie the game.
But Fortuna missed a three-pointer, and the Tigers turned the ball over after recovering the loose ball, allowing Ateneo to dribble out the clock.
Ateneo coach Norman Black became the second man to win five straight titles in the UAAP after Baby Dalupan. Black is set to leave the Blue Eagles after this tournament to take over the reins of Talk ‘N Text in the PBA.
Nico Salva, who scored 30 points in Game One, was named Most Valuable Player of the finals for the second straight year. He chipped in eight points in Game Two.
“It’s about the players, they worked very hard,” Ateneo coach Norman Black said.
The teams engaged in tight battle early, with UST taking a 14-13 lead after the first quarter.
They exchanged leads in the second quarter before Ravena, who scored 11 points at the half, sank two free throws late in the period for a 29-all score at the half.
Ateneo threatened to pull away after Ravena converted an and-one play with a minute left in the third period to give the Blue Eagles a 47-42 lead.
But guard Jeric Fortuna scored four straight points, a split free throw and an off-the-glass three-pointer, to keep UST within one point, 47-46, after the third period.
Fortuna then hit another three-pointer to start the final period to give the Tigers a 49-47 edge. UST, however, gave up four straight fouls in the succeeding possessions which led to converted free throws by Ateneo.
That sequence helped the Blue Eagles launch a 10-2 attack capped by Slaughter’s post move to lift Ateneo to a 59-51 lead with 6:43 left in the game.
UST then clawed back with a 7-1 run to come within two, 60-58, via a Jeric Teng putback in the 2:05 mark of the final period.
But center Karim Abdul committed a travelling violation in the Tigers’ next possession. Guard Juami Tiongson then sank a runner with 1:12 left to put Ateneo ahead by four, 62-58.
After that play, UST continued their woes after being called with a five-second inbound violation, setting up Ravena’s dagger.
Slaughter registered 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Tiongson added 10 points for Ateneo.
Fortuna was only the UST player in double digits. Prized big man Abdul, meanwhile, was only limited to eight points but grabbed 12 rebounds.