The defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles quickly put their stinging loss to University of Sto. Tomas behind them, clobbering host National University, 89-65, in UAAP men’s basketball action Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Blue Eagles led by as many as 27 points to turn what had been billed as an early clash of title favorites into a lopsided affair, as they reasserted their mastery over the Bulldogs with yet another emphatic rout. The hosts were coming off a rousing 90-55 opening-day win over University of the East, while the Eagles had just absorbed a 70-71 defeat at the hands of the Growling Tigers.
Ateneo set the tone early on, jumping to a 13-3 lead en route to a 28-17 edge after the first period. The Eagles extended the lead to 21 at 55-34 at the halftime break to virtually settle the outcome as the Bulldogs could come no closer than 17 points in the second half.
It was the ninth straight win by Ateneo over NU, all by double figures, dating back to Season 71. Seven of those wins have been by 20 or more points.
Nico Salva led Ateneo’s dominance with 21 points, while Kiefer Ravena with 17 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
“The concentration in the last two days is to keep our focus for 40 minutes,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black. “Today we just wanted to play for complete 40 minutes the entire game, and luckily we got that done. Also, we reminded the players that our offense might be up and down but our defense should be consistent.”
“We know we’re a great team and it’s mandatory for us to win this game,” Ravena said.
“That game (against UST) was a wake-up call for us," Salva noted. "We have to recognize our mistakes and play Ateneo basketball by sharing the leather.”