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UE bucks slow start, outpoints Ateneo in clutch for FilOil opener win

By Julian Reyes

SAN JUAN, MM--It’s not how you start the game that counts the most. It’s how you end it.

The University of the East failed to complete a come-from-behind victory against Ateneo de Manila University in the regulation, but showed its gigantic heart in the game’s extra five-minute possession to score a 93-91 overtime win and spoil coach Tab Baldwin’s debut for the Blue Eagles in the main game of Day 1 of the FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup at the FilOil Flying V Centre on Saturday.

After an Bon Batiller’s game-tying trifecta with five seconds left in the regulation went in – which eventually forced overtime, the Red Warriors made serious work in the game’s final five minutes as it outscored Ateneo, 14-12, to salvage their first win of the season.

Coming off the bench, Batiller also came up big in the overtime, rejecting an Aaron Black’s attempt with 20 seconds left before his teammate Renz Palma sank four free throws within the game’s last 13 seconds to seal the deal.

Palma paced the scoring of the Red Warriors as he finished with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, eight rebounds, three dimes and three steals.

Guard Alvin Pasaol also contributed well as he tallied 15 points and six boards on 15 minutes of play while Batiller added 14 to lead all the scorers for UE.

The Red Warriors was still down by seven points, 75-68, with two minutes left in the game clock when they eventually blasted a quick 11-4 run capped by Batiller’s triple to send the game into overtime.

Despite not able to take the lead against the pesky Ateneo in regulation, UE turned things around in overtime as it kept the Blue Eagles error-prone with its sticky defense.

Palma proved to be the handful for Ateneo as he carried his team on his back in the dying seconds en route to the victory.

The Red Warriors took advantage of Ateneo’s careless basketball as it converted 24 turnover points out of the 28 the Blue Eagles had committed.

UE tallied 19 turnovers but the Ateneo failed to capitalize on it as the former’s defense was able to stop the latter’s offensive charge right on time.

Despite losing, the Baldwin-mentored Ateneo troop found a projected firepower in the name of Chi Ikeh as he imposed his will power down low to finish with 20 points (8-of-9 from the field), 16 rebounds, seven coming from his team’s missed shots and two blocks.

Incoming UAAP Season 79’s Men’s basketball rookie Tyler Tio also made a promising start for Ateneo as he finished with 19 points and buried three triples.

However, with the dazzling showing of their rookies, the Ateneo lost its point guard Matt Nieto who got hurt after landing on his right hip late in fourth frame.

Ateneo had the upper hand in the first 30 minutes of the game but failed to sustain it lead as the game wore down.

Box Scores:

UE 93–Palma 22, Pasaol 15, Batiller 14, De Leon 11, Derige 10, Charcos 8, Acuno 3, Manalang 2, Abanto 2, Larupay 2, Armenion 2, Gagate 1, Penuela 1, Varilla 0, Bartolome 0, Poblete 0

Ateneo 91–Ikeh 20, Tio 19, Wong A. 13, Black 7, Apacible 7, Nitto 7, Porter 7, Tolentino 5, Ravena 3, Nieto 2, Wong D. 1, Go 0

Quarterscores: 16-16; 27-34; 52-58; 79-79; 93-91

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