Ateneo claims top spot winning over rivals La Salle, FEU withstands NU to stay in Final Four race

FEU Tamaraws 79 – NU Bulldogs 74

The FEU Tamaraws were able to withstand the offensive explosion of John Lloyd Clemente to get past the NU Bulldogs for their seventh win of the season. The Tamaraws are now tied with the Fighting Maroons at fourth place in the standings.

After a back-and-forth first quarter, FEU caught fire in the second quarter. Arvin Tolentino carried the offensive load in the first half. He scored six points to open the game and then dropped 10 points in the second quarter to lead the way. Ken Tuffin and LJay Gonzales joined the fray to help Tolentino with a combined eight points. The Tamaraws defense was also on point. They limited the Bulldogs to just 10 points during the same stretch. FEU took an 18-point lead heading to the break.

NU tried to get back in the third period behind Clemente’s offensive explosion. The rookie guard burned the nets for 21 points in the third quarter alone. He used his silky smooth game to get his buckets. The Bulldogs found Clemente repeatedly for outside shots and drives into the paint. Clemente’s scoring binge helped NU get to within eight points heading into the final period.

That was the closest that the Bulldogs would get. FEU’s defense held the Bulldogs to just 13 points in the final quarter while scoring enough to stay ahead of NU. Tolentino led the way with 16 points and four treys. Tuffin added 15 points with three treys. Clemente finished with 38 points, the highest point total this season.

ADMU Blue Eagles 71 – DLSU Green Archers 62

The Ateneo Blue Eagles weathered foul trouble issues to their three best big men to get past the La Salle Green Archers in their rivalry game. With their 11th win in 13 games of the season, the Blue Eagles have now secured the top spot for the second season in a row. They also claim a twice-to-beat advantage heading into the Final Four.

The Green Archers surprised everyone by fielding Samuel Taane in the game against the Blue Eagles. The Kiwi big man missed most of the season due to injury but he recovered in time to add ceiling to La Salle in the game. The Green Archer big men went to work in the first quarter. Taane, Justine Baltazar and Santi Santillan powered their way in the paint to lead La Salle to an early lead. More than their production, their aggressiveness put the Blue Eagle bigs in foul trouble in the first quarter.

The Blue Eagles had to play much of the first half without Angelo Kouame, Isaac Go and Raffy Verano who were all relegated to the bench. Without the Ateneo big men, La Salle jumped out to an eight-point lead, 29-21 early in the second quarter. The Blue Eagles had to cobble together a line-up with Ravena playing at four and one of their remaining big men manning the paint.

The Blue Eagles slowly chipped away at the Green Archers’ lead in the second period. They leaned on the scrappy play of Mike Nieto and Will Navarro inside as well as the rim protection of Thirdy Ravena. They pulled even heading into the break, completing their second quarter stand.

Ateneo got their big men back in the third period and slowly pulled away from La Salle. Kouame announced his return by faking out two La Salle bigs for a one-handed jam late in the third period. That sparked a run to turn a two-point deficit into a two-possession lead. Ravena then scored on an athletic layup and a three-pointer to put the Blue Eagles up by 13, putting the game out of reach.