The Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles nabbed the top seed in the UAAP Season 85 Final Four after defeating the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, 66-61, on Wednesday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles, riding the crest of a six-game winning streak, rose to 11-3, and tied the University of the Philippines but the former captured the top seed due to its superior quotient at plus-3. This is the fifth consecutive season that Ateneo will enter the Final Four as the top-ranked team.
"It's the Final Four already and we can't get too caught up that we're number one. We all know entering the Final Four it's a whole new ball game," said Blue Eagles assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
Trailing by 10 midway through the fourth frame, AP Manlapaz, Jerom Lastimosa, Joem Sabandal, and Cedrick Manzano made a run to put Adamson just within a point with 1:43 left, 61-62.
After a couple of scoreless exchanges, Ange Kouame got the putback and was fouled but he missed the bonus to leave it a one-possession game with 35.3 seconds to go, 64-61.
Joaquin Jaymalin and Joem Sabandal shot three-point attempts but missed as BJ Andrade iced the game from the line for the Blue Eagles.
Kai Ballungay registered 18 points and 14 rebounds for Ateneo, while Andrade and Kouame chimed in 13 and 12 points, respectively. The latter also grabbed 12 rebounds and swatted three shots.
Adamson got a breakout game from AP Manlapaz with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting while Jerom Lastimosa added 10 points on 15 shots and eight rebounds.
With the Soaring Falcons slipping to 7-7, they will meet De La Salle University on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena for the playoff match for the last Final Four spot. The tip-off time has yet to be decided.
The winner will then face twice-to-beat Ateneo.
Adamson’s Jerom Lastimosa scores a layup against the Ateneo defense. (UAAP)
December 01, 2022
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