UAAP Finals: Ateneo survives UST to take Game 1-A A +A
Saturday, October 6, 2012
NICO Salva had a breakout performance on Saturday as he dropped 30 points to help Ateneo de Manila edged University of Santo Tomas, 83-78, in Game 1 of the 75th UAAP men’s basketball finals.
Setting their eyes on a fifth straight crown since joining the league in 1978, the Blue Eagles have to beat the Growling Tigers anew on Thursday, October 11 at the Araneta Coliseum to avoid sending the series into a winner-take-all on October 13.
Before an overflowing crowd of nearly 21,000, Salva led the Eagles in shutting down the Tigers especially in the telling third period, when Ateneo uncorked a 17-0 run to enter the payoff canto with a 10-point cushion, 61-51.
But the Tigers simply resisted from bowing out as they turned to fiery shooters Aljon Mariano and Jeric Teng, who buried two consecutive treys to keep the team within striking distance with less than 40 ticks left, 81-78.
Cameroonian center Karim Abdul was fouled out of the game in the next play as Kiefer Ravena hit a jumper with eight seconds to go. Teng’s last-gasp basket fell short, sending the blue-clad supporters at the Mall of Asia Arena into a wide celebration.
“I just wanted to win so I gave it my all. I told myself before the game to do everything I can for us to win,” Salva told reporters.
Salva has joined the elite roster of players who tallied at least 30 points in a championship game. Before him were fellow Ateneans Rabeh Al-Hussaini (31 points) in 2008 and LA Tenorio (30 points) in 2001.
Last year, the 22-year-old graduating forward also went 8-of-8 from the field to finish with 24 points in the opening finals match against Far Eastern University.
The Eagles, who turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, even allowed the Tigers to build an 11-point lead in late in the second quarter, courtesy of Mariano’s three-point play, 36-25.
“In the second half, we decided to bring the ball inside. We had some very good matchups. It worked to our favor to work in the post" Ateneo coach Norman Black said.
Despite the win, Black said the job wasn't done yet, recalling his experience in Game 2 of the 2006 finals where UST punished Ateneo with a double-digit advantage. The Tigers went on to win the crown that year after nipping the Eagles in Game 3.
“We’ll just prepare. Do better than what we played today (Saturday),” he said.
UST mentor Pido Jarencio meanwhile ranted about the poor officiating especially in the end game.
He was even escorted out of the playing court for openly criticizing the referees.
But he still credited his wards for fighting until the finish. Teng had 25 points and four rebounds while Mariano collected 22 and 13 markers, respectively.
“We have no choice but to bounce back,” Jarencio said.
Ateneo (83)—Salva 30, Ravena 13, Tiongson 12, Buenafe 10, Chua 9, Slaughter 5, Gonzaga 2, Elorde 2, Sumalinog 0, Golla 0.
UST (78)—Teng 25, Mariano 22, Ferrer 13, Abdul 9, Fortuna 4, Lo 3, Pe 2, Bautista 0. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)