Defending champion Ateneo struggled without injured Matt Nieto when it suffered a loss to Far Eastern University, 60-63, last Wednesday in the 81st University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.
Nieto, who averages 8.0 points, 2.8 assists and 2.2 rebounds, hurt his left thumb late in the first half.
The Tams banked on a big play from Richard Escoto, whose driving shot off Hubert Cani’s assist in the last 29 seconds, gave FEU a 63-58 lead en route to the win as it moved to a share of second place with the Blue Eagles with their 5-2 slate at the end of their first round assignment.
“We had ample opportunities. We could not get it done,” said Blue Eagles’ coach Tab Baldwin.
He said that with Nieto injured, the Blue Eagles will have to find ways to adjust in the second round.
On the other hand, Tams’ coach Olsen Racela said the team was able to bounce back from a bad start in the last period.
The Blue Eagles and the Tams will begin their second round campaign on Sunday, with FEU facing University of Santo Tomas at 2 p.m. and Ateneo facing University of the Philippines at 4 p.m. at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Meanwhile, Faith Nisperos will lead National University’s five-peat bid this weekend in the UAAP Season 81 high school volleyball tournament at the Blue Eagle Gym.
After drawing an opening day bye, the Bullpups will take on the De La Salle-Zobel in the first of a three-game bill on Sunday at 9 a.m.
Hostilities will begin Saturday, with last season’s runner-up University of Santo Tomas battling UP Integrated School at 1:30 p.m., followed by the 3 p.m. match between De La Salle-Zobel and University of the East and the 4:30 p.m. tussle between Far Eastern University-Diliman and Adamson University.