MANILA -- Filling up the shoes left by veteran playmaker Mark Barroca proved to be prophetic for Ryan Roose Garcia as he lead Ateneo’s first opening game loss in five years, 72-69, at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City Sunday night.

Armed with the needed firepower in 34 minutes, the 20-year-old Zamboanga standout drained 15 out of his 25 points in the second half to erase his listless showing in the first quarter.

“He knows very well that the load of the team is on him already since Mark left and I’m glad that the whole team gave their full support to RR. But on this game, he had a shaky start but on the second up to the fourth quarter he was fine already,” said Capacio.

Garcia, who faced the media in shy mode, said he has more to show in the next few games as he batted for consistency.

“Last year they defeated us twice, and I’m happy we win this game,” he told reporters.

The doom is sealed for Ateneo when Nico Salva failed to endure FEU’s deep press in the dying seconds of the game as the Tamaraws leaned on hairline 70-69 score.

Bigman Reil Cervantes saved the lost ball for FEU but was fouled, giving him the opportunity to perfect his foul shots and hand the Tamaraws its first victory against Ateneo since July 31, 2008.

The blockbuster showdown was also highlighted by nine deadlocks and 13 leadchanges.

“Before this game, some are trying to discourage the team that they couldn’t make it but we encourage the players to do their best. They did not give up until the end of the game. We know that we are going up against a champion team,” said Capacio.

Ateneo mentor Norman Black said he is more than glad to move from this game and focus on defeating Adamson University on Thursday.

“I think the most important thing is to utilize the players I have. It’s just one game. We played against a good team as well. Fortunately, we have an immediate game and we can forget this easily,” said Ateneo mentor Norman Black.

The 52-year-old champion coach conceded that Garcia is a good player and that hitting the 20s is something that any player could be proud of.

“He’s a good player. We expect that,” said Black.

FEU will face a lowly NU squad on July 17 but Capacio maintained that all teams have a crack to upend any team this season.

In the other contest, Eric Camson provided the clutch points to lift the Adamson against National University (NU) 60-54 as the Falcons relied on its veterans to on its debut game this season.

Camson registered a double-double to finish with 13 points and 10 rebounds while the duo of veterans Jan Colina and Janus Lozada pumped in 22 points. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)