By Marjoe Toquillo

PHOTO: Rappler

Ateneo Blue Eagles claimed their seven-game sweep of the first round of the UAAP S84 Men's basketball after taming the UST Growling Tigers, 91-80 at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.

The Season 82 finalists came out on their best legs but the outcome has not changed as Ateneo asserted its lone dominance at the top spot of the board with a 7-0 slate.

Ateneo’s win also marks its 33rd consecutive since October 2018.

The Blue Eagles started their rematch with a gritty resolve until the Growling Tigers stepped up their game to keep themselves afloat, yet to no avail. 

Despite trailing by 16 points at halftime, the Growling Tigers zoomed to a redemptive third quarter by cutting the margin to seven, 43-50, with Joshua Fontanilla’s marvelous layup at the 8:15 mark.

But Tyler Tio, who had a career-high 20 points, shone the brightest in the fourth with his back-to-back triples that staged the 22-point spread for the Katipunan-based squad.

Sherwin Concepcion, on the other side, clapped back and led his own streak of three-point shots that reduced the hefty lead of the Eagles to 14. The Concepcion outrage was capped on his third trey at the 5:27 mark.

Still, the 12-2 rally was not enough to bring the Tigers back from within striking distance.

BJ Andrade complemented Tio’s performance with 10 points and two steals, Chris Koon and SJ Belangel both pocketed nine, and Ange Kouame gained 8 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks.

Concepcion played his worth for the Tigers with his 20 points while Thomasian rookie, Paul Manalang added 10.

The UAAP action is expected to continue within the span of the Holy Week as the tournament is said to hold a game-day on April 12, Holy Tuesday.