Please login using any of the following providers:

Ateneo dethrones FEU-Diliman, forges Finals duel with NU - UAAP Season 76

Ateneo dethrones FEU-Diliman, forges Finals duel with NU

By Anton Roxas Posted Sep 21st 2013

Ateneo High School knocked off defending champion FEU-Diliman to forge Finals battle with NU.

The Ateneo Blue Eaglets barged into the UAAP Season 76 Juniors Basketball Finals after repulsing the FEU Baby Tamaraws, 69-64, in the stepladder semifinals match-up on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

With less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of what has been a tight game all throughout, Far Eastern University-Diliman hotshot JJ Domingo drained a triple to give his team a 59-55 lead over Ateneo de Manila High School. But, that would be the last shining moment for the defending champions as the Blue Eaglets outscored the Baby Tamaraws, 14-5, from that point to book a ticket to the Finals.

Ateneo is back in the Finals for the first time since 2010, when Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal led the Eaglets to its 17th Juniors basketball crown. It is also the first time Ateneo has made the Finals since Joe Silva took over the head coaching position from the multi-titled Jamike Jarin.

For Silva, the victory was extra special.

“Actually, I’m at a loss for words right now. Coach Jamike called me earlier and said, ‘You know, I went to the Finals in my third year and I won a championship. Maybe this year, that will happen to you as well.’”

Starting center Mike Nieto played a splendid game having 14 points and 12 rebounds, pleasing his coach.

“That’s why we call him ‘Big Mike’. He’s undersized but he’s got the biggest heart on the team. He’s only around 5’10” but he always plays big.”

At the 2:11 mark of the fourth quarter, the game saw its most crucial moment when Mike’s brother, point guard Matthew Nieto found Jose Escaler underneath the hoop for an easy basket. The graduating forward was fouled on the shot and converted on the extra free throw. The three-point play gave Ateneo an 62-59 lead and soon after, Escaler knocked down a booming triple to push the lead up further, 65-59 with 1:38 to go.

“Escaler came to play. He was the one that started it actually. In the first half, no one was listening to the coaches. Everyone was playing ‘hero basketball’. It was Escaler that started following directions. He brought us to the victory,” said Silva.

A loaded NU Bullpups squad that swept the elimination round awaits the spirited Blue Eaglets in the Finals and Silva feels confident that they can handle the daunting challenge.

“Well, winning three against NU is really tough. But, hey, if there’s any team that can do it, I believe my boys can.”

The UAAP Season 76 Juniors basketball Finals begins on October 6, 2013.

Box scores:

ADMU 69 – Nieto Mi. 14, Escaler 14, Ravena 11, Black 10, Nieto Ma. 9, Mendoza 7, Ramos 2, Magpoc 2, Salandanan 0, Joson 0, Calilung 0.

FEU-Diliman 64 – Lee 19, Domingo Jj. 15, Bienes 9, Completo 5, Aquino 5, Tabudlo 4, Limba 4, Comboy 3, Rumbaoa 0, Paglinawan 0, Domingo Js. 0.

Quarter scoring: 9-17, 32-32, 47-46, 69-64.