April 26, 2018, 7:37 pm
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Blue Eagles too strong for Maroons 

TYLER Tio waited for a year to suit for Ateneo. He proved yesterday the long wait was worth it.

Coming off the bench, Tio provided the needed spark as Ateneo thumped University of the Philippines yesterday 92-71 for its second straight win and the early solo lead in the 80th UAAP basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Versatile swingman Thirdy Ravena led the Eagles with 16 points to go with six caroms but the game definitely belonged to Tio, a former Xavier School standout.

Tio, who sat out last season after failing to meet the league’s eligibility requirements, provided the spark off the bench with 14 points spiked by two triples on an impeccable 6-of-6 field goal shooting. He also did not play in the Eagles’ 85-65 drubbing of Adamson last Sept. 9 due to a sprained left ankle.

The Fighting Maroons absorbed their first loss after starting their campaign with a 74-73 decision over University of Santo Tomas last Sept. 10.

Eagles assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga lauded his charges’ defense and the way they took care of the ball in the second half that propelled the squad to the runaway win.

“I have a couple of guys who stepped up for us, especially, one of the things that coach Tab (Baldwin) said at halftime was we needed to play better defense and we needed to take care of the ball more,” he said. “They shot 44 percent from the field in the first half so we brought that down to 37 percent so it was a big improvement for us.” 

The Ateneo Blue Babble Battalion made a political statement during its halftime performance, showing placards with the words “Stop the EJKs” and “Uphold Human Rights.”

Earlier, Far Eastern University found an unlikely hero in defensive specialist Ron Dennison who came up big in the fourth quarter as the Tamaraws beat University of the East 90-83.

The 6-foot Dennison poured in six of his 16 points in a critical stretch while Prince Orizu gave the Red Warriors’ frontline fits, chipping in 15 markers and pulling down 16 rebounds to gift new coach Olsen Racela his first win in the collegiate ranks.

Barkley Ebona, Richard Escoto, and Arvin Tolentino also scored in double-digits for the Tams, wounding up with 11 points apiece as FEU bounced back big from a 90-95 loss to defending champion La Salle last Sept. 10.

UE failed to atone for its 69-86 defeat to National University last Sept. 9 and dropped to a 0-2 overall.

Racela, who replaced his younger brother Nash at the helm last year, was simply pleased to get a maiden win for his team and for himself but stressed that the Tamaraws are still a work in progress.

“It’s always gives you satisfaction when you win lalo na our first for the season and my first as a coach pero malayo pa kami kung saan naming gustong pumunta,” said Racela.

“We have still a lot of things to do, take care of, buti na lang nandito ‘yung mga anchor ng depensa namin. We’re giving away too many penetration on defense buti na lang nandoon si Prince na sumalo sa lahat ng duma-drive sa kalaban,” he added. – Michael Jugado
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