AN awkwardly executed basket from Isaac Go after he fell on his knees propelled the Ateneo Blue Eagles to their second straight finals’ appearance in the 80th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.
The 6’8” Go released his attempt from the right side moments after he dropped to the ground in an effort to retrieve a missed outside attempt by Matt Nieto with 20.1 seconds left.
The basket helped carry the Blue Eagles to an 88-84 overtime triumph over the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in their Final Four rubber match last night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“We were not thinking that this was a 7-and-7 team. We knew that we will play a close game with them. And that’s what happened. And our players never gave up, stayed focused and stuck to the game plan. There were ups and downs. But what a great game,” said coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
With the Blue Eagles enjoying an 87-83 advantage after Go successfully sank his attempt in the remaining time, the Blue Eagles sealed a dream best-of-three finals showdown with the defending champion La Salle Green Archers for the second straight season.
Thirdy Ravena tallied a game-high 17 points for Ateneo, which forced the overtime after Go connected with a triple in the last 8.5 seconds.
Go finished with 13 points and nine rebounds as he found his opening in the dying seconds of the extension period in the absence of a fouled-out Tamaraw big man Prince Orizu.
The Tams drew 19 points from Jesper Parker, who put FEU ahead for the last time at 80-79 in the last 2:41 with his driving shot against Vince Tolentino.
After that, Blue Eagle big man Chibueze Ikeh tied the match with a split freebie, 80-all.
Then, Nieto struck twice, first with a drive off Richard Escoto, and a triple in the last 46.9 seconds, following a turnover from FEU cager Hubert Cani’s bungled three-point try as the Eagles grabbed an 85-80 lead.
FEU, getting 13 points from Tolentino, struggled to stay ahead, 71-69, after they lost Orizu to five fouls off Nieto in the final 1:39 of regulation.