By Jerome Lagunzad
(The Arena, San Juan City)
9 a.m. – UST vs UPIS
11 a.m. – FEU vs UE
1 p.m. – DLSZ vs NU
3 p.m. – Adamson vs Ateneo
Up against the team bannered by league’s top scorer, Ateneo coach Joe Silva drew up a simple gameplan for the Blue Eaglets: Shut down University of Santo Tomas star John Cansino and the win will come easy.
That’s exactly what happened yesterday as Ateneo made life miserable for the 6-foot-1 Cansino to hack a convincing 78-54 victory that stretched its perfect start to eight games in the UAAP juniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
Dave Ildefonso led their balanced attack with a game-high 20 points while towering center Kai Sotto had another dominant showing of 11 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks but it was the Blue Eaglets’ suffocating defense that enabled them to repeat over the Tiger Cubs.
“We told them that it’s understandable that our offense will be rusty. But there are no off days on defense. The constant effort should be there,” said Ateneo coach Joe Silva, pleased with how his wards limited their rivals to just nine points in the second period that set the tone for an all-too-familiar double-digit victory.
With new UST coach Aldin Ayo watching from the stands, Cansino tried his best to showcase his vastly-improving offensive skills but the leading MVP candidate proved no match to Ateneo’s stingy defense led by the taller Ildefonso.
Cansino, the league’s top scorer with 27.6 points per game in the opening round, was held down to just 16 points on 6-of-20 shooting from the field. He added 12 rebounds and four assists but the Tigers Cubs dropped to third spot with a 5-3 mark.
Earlier, National University repeated over defending champion Far Eastern University-Diliman, 86-81, to start the second round of play on a high note.
Rhayyan Amsali tallied 21 points while gunner Terrence Fortea, coming off the bench this time, collected 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds as the Bullpups tightened up their hold of the second spot with a 6-2 record, a day after their earlier win over University of the East was forfeited by the UAAP Board.
LJ Gonzales had 21 points on an efficient 9-of-13 shooting from the field but the Baby Tamaraws went cold down the stretch, causing them to absorb their fourth loss in eight matches, good for fourth overall.