Sophomore center Chris Javier saved the day again for UE Red Warriors as they shocked defending champions Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles.
Coming off a heroic performance last Sunday, Javier buried yet another game-winning jumper to lift UE Red Warriors to a 79-77 upset over defending champion Ateneo in UAAP Season 75 action Thursday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
With the game tied at 77-all with just 7.2 seconds left, UE Red Warriors gave the ball to guard Roi Sumang, who attracted the Ateneo defenders after penetrating to the basket. That left Javier wide open from the left corner to hit a short jumper with just 0.4 ticks left to give the victory for UE.
“This is much sweeter because we defeated the defending champions,” UE Red Warriors coach Boycie Zamar said. “I don’t know if it’s a dream or a bangungot, but I’ll just slap my face later.”
After taking a 19-10 lead after the first quarter, Ateneo looked poised to pull away in the first half.
UE Red Warriors then launched a 17-6 run behind Sumang and forward Gene Belleza, who buried a triple at the 1:27 mark of the second quarter to give the Red Warriors a 34-32 lead before Ateneo led once again after the first half, 36-34.
Both teams continued to engage in a tight battle in the third quarter, with UE Red Warriors answering every run by Ateneo, which took a slim 56-53 lead after the period.
Ateneo threatened again after blasting an 8-0 run to lead, 68-63, midway through the fourth quarter. But triples by Belleza and Sumang brought the Red Warriors back in the game.
Forward Adrian Santos then gave the lead once again for UE, 77-75, after a layup with 20.8 seconds left, but guard Kiefer Ravena scored a putback in the next possession to tie the game at 77-all before Javier made the game-winner.
“Laban pa rin nang laban. Nandoon pa rin sa dugo ko yung dugong warrior,” Javier said.
Javier scored 15 points and five rebounds, while Sumang also hit 15 markers. Belleza exploded for 28 points to lead UE Red Warriors, which was fresh from a 79-76 squeaker against University of the Philippines last Sunday where Javier also hit a game-winning triple.
Center Greg Slaughter scored 24 points and 15 rebounds to lead Ateneo, which lost only its second game in 11 outings.