UP proves Ateneo isn’t unbeatable after all

James Spencer celebrates the win with his Fighting Maroons teammates.

UNIVERSITY of the Philippines (UP) handed Ateneo de Manila University its first defeat, 84-83, in 1,299 days on Sunday night to deny the Blue Eagles of an elimination round sweep in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 84 men’s basketball action at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The loss was the Blue Eagles’ first since October 10, 2018, when they bowed to the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 63-60. They have won 39 straight until Sunday tonight.
Because of the Fighting Maroons’ victory, a traditional Final Four will start on Wednesday with Ateneo (13-1) facing fourth seed FEU (7-7) at 6 p.m. and UP (12-2) battling third-ranked De La Salle University at 2 pm.(9-5).

The top two seeds will have a twice-to-beat advantage.

Down 77-81, Malick Diouf drained two free throws before James Spencer drilled a booming trey from the top of the key to put the Fighting Maroons ahead, 82-81, with 43.6 seconds to go.

In the ensuing play, Gian Mamuyac drove to the basket and missed but Dave Ildefonso was there for the offensive board and a lay in to give Ateneo back the lead, 83-82, with 32.4 ticks left.

Off a timeout, Ricci Rivero received the ball and called an isolation before penetrating to the basket and was fouled. He cooly buried both free throws for an 84-83 UP lead with 22.2 seconds remaining.

The Blue Eagles ten went to SJ Belangel for a triple but missed. Malick Diouf secured the rebound and was sent to the line. Diouf missed his charities but grabbed the board to secure the win for UP.

“Winning against Ateneo is a big achievement for us,” UP coach Goldwin Monteverde said. “One thing good for me is that the team stayed as team no matter how close the game was.”
Diouf had a monster game of 18 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block.
Carl Tamayo chalked up 16 points while Spencer got 12 points, six rebounds and three assists.

CJ Cansino, who already had 11 points at the time, was stretchered out of the court with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter after a collision midair that saw him suffer a dislocated patella. He was able to go back to the bench but was not fielded back the rest of the way.

Ange Kouame led the Blue Eagles with a double-double of 21 points and 17 rebounds with four assists, three steals and three blocks.

Dave Ildefonso chimed in 18 points and seven rebounds, while Belangel added 11 points.

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