MANILA, Philippines - Ateneo rebounded from a stunning loss the last time even as Far Eastern University hacked out a thriller of a win over the highly-touted La Salle squad on Sunday in the 75th UAAP basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The defending champion Eagles extended their mastery of host National University with an 89-65 rout while guard Cris Tolomia hit a step back jumper with 47 seconds left as the Tamaraws hacked out a 48-46 win over erstwhile undefeated La Salle in a low-scoring game with chief backer Eduardo ''Danding'' Cojuangco in attendance.
FEU took the solo lead with a perfect 2-0 slate while Ateneo forged a tie for second with arch-rival La salle at 2-1.
After getting a wake-up call from its 71-70 defeat to University of Santo Tomas on Thursday, Ateneo sizzled at the start with center Greg Slaughter providing the spark to beat NU for the 9th straight time.
Slaughter stayed out of foul trouble this time to finish with 14 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks even as Nico Salva and Kiefer Ravena scored 21 and 17 points, respectively.
''Our concentration for the last two days was to keep our focus for 40 minutes. Against UST, we were focused for 20 minutes but we played relaxed in the second half,'' said coach Norman Black, whose team blew a 19-point second quarter lead against UST.
Reigning Most Valuable Player Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. produced 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Bulldogs in a losing effort.
In the other game, Tolomia hit a difficult step back jumper off rookie Jeron Teng with 47.6 seconds left to shatter a 46-all tie before FEU forced the Archers to miss two shots in the dying seconds to register another close win.
''Maganda ang backcourt defense ng La Salle at dun sa play na yun, nakita namin na ang weakest defender ay si (Jeron) Teng kaya si Tolomia na ang pinaisolation namin,'' coach Bert Flores said of the winning shot.
For Flores, it was the backcourt plays of FEU that made it work.
''Hindi namin macontrol yung depensa ng La Salle sa ilalim dahil mas malaki sila sa amin kaya nagrely na lang kami sa mga isolation plays at pick-and-rolls,'' Flores said.
Teng missed a driving layup while Almond Vosotros' three-point attempt bounced off the rim at the horn as La Salle lost for the first time this season.
FEU, which defeated the Archers for the seventh time in the last games dating back to 2009, survived a foul-prone game and a lousy-shooting effort by both squads.