By Drew Malihan
MANILA – Ateneo Blue Eagles’ rookie Dwight Ramos and vet Troy Mallillin led the defending PCCL champions to 3-0 sweep of the NCAA-UAAP challenge at the expense of hapless Letran Knights, 79-61, at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
The freshman goes for 16 points, along with seven rebounds, two assists, and three steals in just over 22 minutes of play, while Mallilin tallied 16 markers in 4-of-5 shooting from deep, as well as six rebounds and an assist coming off the bench.
Pao Javillonar meanwhile got 15 points, seven rebounds, an assist, and a steal for the Letran side who missed the service of both Larry Muyang and Ato Ular who participated in the MPBL All-Star Challenge.
It was all a close 35-35 in the first half, with Letran even leading in the first quarter, 16-11.
The Blue Eagles started to pull away through a 30-point third quarter, with the Ramos-Mallillin duo bagging 13, while limiting the Knights to just four points in the entire period, including the only field goal by Christian Fajarito with just over two minutes in the third.
It was all Ateneo in the fourth even as Letran tried to play catch-up with a 22-14 fourth quarter fight in favor of the Knights.
The systematic Blue Eagle defense prompted Letran to shoot at a measly 19-of-63 from the field, including 1-of-13 in the third quarter, and commit 20 turnovers, seven of which were in the third period alone.
Ateneo got the sure ticket to Davao for the Final Four after sweeping the competition, as they will join NCAA-UAAP Challenge runner-up San Beda Red Lions, Luzon Champions UP Fighting Maroons, and a yet-to-be-crowned Visayas-Mindanao champions.
Ateneo (79) - D. Ramos 16, Mallillin 16, Belangel 10, Credo 8, Daves 6, Fornilos 6, Tio 5, Kouame 5, Navarro 4, Mamuyac 2, E. Ramos 1, P. Maagdenberg 0, Chiu 0, Berjay 0, E. Maagdenberg 0.
Letran (61) - Javillonar 15, Fajarito 10, Yu 9, Brutas 6, Pambid 5, Mina 5, Guarino 5, Rocacurva 4, Ambohot 0, Bañez 0.
Quarters: 11-16, 35-35, 65-39, 79-61.
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