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Ateneo beats UE, ends skid

Games Saturday
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. – FEU vs UP
4 p.m. – UE vs Adamson

Jolo Mendoza’s coming out party proved to be timely for the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

The highly-touted rookie scored all of his 15 points in the first half as the Blue Eagles came back from a 14-point first quarter deficit to beat the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors, 75-61, and snap a two-game losing skid yesterday in the UAAP basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.

Mendoza, who played just 15 minutes, hit a perfect 3-for-3 from downtown in the first half, capped off with back-to-back triples that enabled Ateneo to take 42-35 lead seconds before halftime.

The shooting exploits of the former Batang Gilas standout allowed Ateneo to rally from two 14-point deficits, the last at 23-9, and gain a crucial win after losses to archrival La Salle and lowly University of the Philippines.

Ateneo tightened its grip on third place with a 5-4 record.

“For me, it just felt good that was able to contribute to today’s win,” said Mendoza, who entered the game averaging 4.1 points in 7.5 minutes. “Siguro I just got more opportunities and have my teammates helping me get open looks.”

He was one of many players who stepped for the Blue Eagles, who after overcoming the early deficit took a pair of 18-point advantages in the second half.

Thirdy Ravena scored 14 points, Adrian Wong and Mike Nieto had 11 and 10 points, respectively, while gentle giant Isaac Go added eight points, including a rare three-pointer at the buzzer that gave Ateneo a 60-48 lead after the third period, and eight rebounds in just 10 minutes of action.

Also stepping up was Aaron Black, who played 14 minutes and made four points, four rebounds and three assists in his return from a foot injury.

“UE got off to a big lead, they made their shots and we weren’t getting ours. Good thing a couple of our bench guys helped us out on both offense and defense,” said Ateneo coach Sandy Arespacochaga.

Guard Philip Manalang topscored with 16 points but the foul-prone Red Warriors failed to sustain their big lead and fell to 2-7 after a game marred by a heated exchange of words between a father of a UE player and several Ateneo supporters following a series of hard fouls late in the contest.

First Game

ATENEO 75 – Mendoza 15, Ravena 14, Wong 11, Nieto Mi. 10, Go 8, Asistio 4, Tolentino 4, Black 4, Verano 4, Ikeh 1, Babilonia 0, Nieto Ma. 0, Porter 0.

UE 61 – Manalang 16, De Leon 13, Varilla 7, Pasaol 7, Batiller 5, Olayon 4, Bartolome 4, Palma 3, Derige 2, Penuela 0, Gagate 0, Charcos 0, Abanto 0, Larupay 0.

Quarters: 16-23; 42-37; 60-48; 75-61.