By Jun Ray Navarres
Ateneo de Manila University remained in the Final Four hunt after eliminating University of the East with a 80-74 triumph Wednesday in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
The Blue Eagles of Katipunan improved their semis bid with their third straight win to improve to 7-6 on the fourth spot.
Long time head coach Tab Baldwin, however, was not satisfied with the team’s output.
“I thought we looked a little bit disinterested today. There was no excuse for that. It’s disappointing turning the ball over as much as we did and not be more dominant in the rebounding when they’re missing Precious (Momowei) and we had a significant size disadvantage,” expressed Baldwin.
Momowei was suspended for one game as a result of absorbing his second unsportsmanlike call in their loss against De La Salle University last Sunday.
Without the Nigerian center, Kai Balunggay and Joseph Obasa were able to operate inside the painted area for Ateneo to push the lead up to 15, 70-55 entering the final frame.
But UE fought back and closed to within four with 2:15 remaining, 68-72.
UE absorbed their third straight loss and were eliminated from Final Four contention.
Jared Brown piloted the Blue Eagles with career-high 21 points on six treys.
Balunggay scored 15 points, five assists, and four rebounds, while Obasa scored 13, grabbed 11 boards, and two swats.
Rey Remogat led the UE with 22 points, seven assists, five rebounds, and three steals while Wello Lingolingo dropped 14 points.
The Blue Eagles hope to solidify their fourth spot against the De La Salle University on Saturday while UE will play its last game vs. playoff hopeful Adamson University on Sunday.
Featured photo courtesy of UAAP
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