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Mendoza’s treys power Eagles past UE Warriors

JOLLO Mendoza was hot yesterday.

His three three-point shots found their mark in the second period and helped propel the Ateneo Blue Eagles to a 75-61 smothering of the University of the East Warriors in the 79th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament at the Arena in San Juan.

This far in the season, the six-foot Mendoza said he is finally getting comfortable in his role as a point guard of the Blue Eagles, a shift from his old position in high school when he played shooting guard and small forward.

Thirdy Ravena of Ateneo loses his footing while driving to the basket as UE’s Shannon Gate gives chase in a UAAP game won by the Eagles, 75-61. 
Brosi Gonzales

“I just got more opportunities to score, thanks to my teammates for giving me open looks,” said Mendoza after the Blue Eagles posted their fifth win in nine matches.

Mendoza led with 15 points, including three timely treys, which helped Ateneo turn the tables on UE at halftime, 42-37.

His first trey came with 6:06 left, allowing Ateneo to come back from nine points down, 26-32.

He struck again twice in succession, after Adrian unloaded his own three-pointer in the last 58 seconds,  giving Ateneo a 42-35 lead in the ensuing play.

“He’s very understanding and learning on his new position as point guard. And it’s not an easy task for him,” said Ateneo coach Sandy Arespacochaga.

The Warriors behind Philip Manalang with 16 points, took a commanding 23-9 lead in the first period, before Ateneo’s outside shooting whittled down their advantage.

Jollo Go’s drive and triple towards the end of the third period saw Ateneo taking a 60-48 spread.

Thirdy Ravena added 14 points for Ateneo while Wong provided 11, with his trey with 4:13 sending them to an 18-point spread, 69-51. 

In the other senior game, Ben Mbala struck with 29 points and 14 rebounds, while Aljun Melecio added 18 for the La Salle Green Archers in their 113-88 swamping of the National University Bulldogs.

This sent the Green Archers to their 10th straight victory and kept them on track for a place in the Final Four, while NU fell to fifth with their fourth straight loss in a 4-5 card.

Melecio hit 10 points in the second period as the Green Archers moved ahead, 56-49, at halftime.

Mbala made 12 in the third canto in keeping the Green Archers in front, 85-75, at the end of the third.

Meanwhile, University of Santo Tomas hopes to maintain its streak of winning at least one championship every year as the UAAP Season 79 taekwondo tournament kicks off today at the Blue Eagle gym.

The four-day competition opens with the poomsae event, where the Growling Tigers, starring veteran internationalists Jocelyn Ninobla and Rodolfo Reyes Jr., are gunning for their third title in four years. 

Action in the men’s and women’s sparring, meanwhile, will commence tomorrow at the same Katipunan venue.

UST shoots for a 14th men’s championship, as it tries to fend off stiff challenges from last season’s runner-up University of the East, National University and La Salle behind reigning MVP Joaquin Mendoza.

The Lady Warriors, meanwhile, are hard-pressed for a back-to-back title romp, as the Tigresses and the Lady Archers remain as main challengers.

UST is eager to regain the crown it last won in 2013 with Season 76 MVP Abigail Cham leading the charge.

Even Ateneo has joined the fray as it pulled off a recruitment coup by getting Asian Taekwondo Championship gold medalist Pauline Lopez.

In the juniors division, UE is eyeing for a fourth consecutive title. 

Games Saturday 

(Araneta Coliseum)

2 p.m. FEU vs UP

4 p.m. UE vs Adamson 

Topics: Jollo Mendoza , Ateneo Blue Eagles , University of the East Warriors , 79th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament

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