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Six-peat bid off to nightmarish start for Ateneo as NU Bulldogs pound Eagles

By Josiah Albelda Posted Jun 30th 2013

Ray Parks proved to be the big difference as National University trounced five-time defending champion Ateneo de Manila University.

Off the wrong foot.

Ateneo de Manila University found itself on a receiving end of a brutal manhandling by the National University, 64-54, to open the 76th UAAP men's basketball tournament on a sour note Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Blue Eagles, seeking a sixth straight championship, missed 25 of their first 27 attempts from downtown before heating up when the deficit was 24 points already to lose to the Bulldogs for the first time since 2007.

Two-time MVP Ray Parks delivered 22 points, nine rebounds and four assists and made nine of 10 foul shots to lead NU, who were playing without Cameroonian Alfred Aroga.

Aroga, expected to be one of the Bulldogs' leaders this season, will not be fielded by the Sampaloc-based squad until he fixes his papers, according to coach Eric Altamirano.

But even without the versatile big man, NU proved to be too much against an Ateneo side reeling from the virtual absence of superstar guard Kiefer Ravena, who played just eight minutes and made only one of six shots.

Despite the dominating win, Altamirano wasn't satisfied with how his wards ended the game.

"We controlled the first three quarters, but somehow, our defense relaxed," the multi-titled coach said. "We allowed them to get their bearing with their outside shots."

A three-pointer by Dennice Villamor pushed the Bulldogs to their biggest lead of the game at 59-35, before the Eagles hit three treys in a dizzying 16-2 blast that trimmed the gap to 10 at 61-51 with 2:08 remaining.

Parks then dashed Ateneo's hopes with a triple with 1:45 left that restored order at 64-51.

Jean Mbe stepped up in Aroga's absence and posted 14 points and 15 rebounds while Villamor made 60% of his three-pointers to finish with 13 markers and three steals.

Juami Tiongson paced the Eagles with 13 points but had zero assists even as Nico Elorde and Ryan Buenafe each had 10 markers for the Blue and White.

The Scores:

NU 64 – Parks 22, Mbe 14, Villamor 13, Javillionar 5, Alolino 4, Rosario 2, Khobuntin 2, Alejandro 2, Roño 0, De Guzman 0.

Ateneo 54 – Tiongson 13, Elorde 10, Buenafe 10, Newsome 9, Erram 4, Ravena 2, Pessumal 2, Golla 2, Capacio 2, Tolentino 0, Babilonia 0.

Quarter Scores: 15-10, 33-21, 50-32, 64-54.