Blue Eagles cruise with strong second half

Defense wins championships.

And that’s what five-peat-seeking Ateneo convincingly showcased anew Sunday night.

Failing to accustom themselves with the brand-new Mall of Asia Arena, the Blue Eagles turned to their vaunted defense to gut out a 73-57 victory over Adamson and start their title-retention bid in convincing fashion UAAP Season 75 men’s basketball championship before a packed crowd of 15, 118.

Center Greg Slaughter finished with a game-high 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and hauled down 10 boards while four other Blue Eagles chipped in at least six points apiece, enough to prove Ateneo remains the team to beat in the eight-team field.

Nico Salva had 14 points and six boards, Kiefer Ravena added nine markers and Chris Sumalinog and Ryan Buenafe combined for 12 for the Blue Eagles, who collectively shot 28-of-63 from the field but only made a single trey in eight tries.

A reinvigorated defensive pressure–especially in the second half–enabled the Ateneo to masterfully soar away from fading Adamson side.

“The thing that helped us the most is our defense,” stressed Ateneo coach Norman Black, whose charges limited the Falcons to just eight made shots in 41 attempts after allowing 15 in the first half. “That’s something we will bank on for the entire year.”

“It’s a workmanlike effort for us,” added Black, whose charges shot 27-of-56 from the two-point field but only converted a lone trey in eight attempts. “We didn’t have the chance to practice here that’s why we had a hard time shooting the ball.”

Rodney Brondial, despite giving up seven inches to the 7-foot- Slaughter, held his own with 13 points, 11 of them in the first half, plus and 10 boards while Alex Nuyles finished with 12 markers, seven rebounds and five assists for the Falcons, who made it to the Final Four last season.


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