Ateneo avoids collapse against FEU to set up finals vs La Salle

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Crisis averted.

They were pushed to the limit, but the Ateneo Blue Eagles were able to defeat the FEU Tamaraws in Game 2 of their Final Four series, 69-68, on Wednesday, November 30, at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to advance to the finals of UAAP Season 79.

Ateneo squandered a late 4-point advantage with under 3 minutes to go, but halted the Tamaraws’ upset bid in overtime to set up a finals date against their rival DLSU Green Archers.

The Finals start on Saturday, December 3, and will mark the first championship between Ateneo and La Salle in 8 years.

Thirdy Ravena and Mike Nieto led the Blue Eagles with 13 points each, while Isaac Go finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds plus hit his team’s lone field goal in the extra 5-minute session which proved to be the difference.

FEU was led by the 15 points and 7 rebounds of Monbert Arong. Raymar Jose, who had 20 points and 23 boards in the Tamaraws’ Game 1 win, had 12 points and 12 boards.

Ateneo had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Ravena missed on his floater at the buzzer.

Both teams then struggled from the field throughout OT. After Ron Dennison put the Tams ahead 68-67 with 2:06 to go, Go reclaimed the lead for the Eagles with a put-back as 1:20 remained on the clock.

The Tamaraws had a chance to win the game in the dying seconds but was disrupted by an errant pass on the break. Dennison got the ball near the basket as the game clock neared 0 seconds, but released the shot after the final buzzer, discounting the would-be game-winner at the buzzer.

FEU, the defending champion, failed to make the finals a third straight year. 

It’s going to be the fifth time in UAAP history Ateneo and La Salle square off in the finals, with the Blue Eagles winning 3 of 4. Ateneo was also the only team to hand DLSU a loss in the elimination round. –