MANILA, Philippines—Ken Batas erupted for a career-high 30 points to lead Ateneo’s come-from-behind 22-25, 25-19, 26-28, 25-20, 15-13 victory over archrival La Salle in the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Batas willed the Blue Eagles back from a 1-2 match deficit with a 28-of-53, as Jian Salarzon chipped in 21 points and 15 excellent receptions to force a triple-tie at 7-6 with La Salle and Far Eastern University for the last two semifinal berths.
Ateneo pulled away with a 13-8 lead in the fifth but it flirted with disaster as Billie Animam nailed the timely blocks for La Salle to cut the lead within one, 13-12, before Batas stopped the bleeding with an off-the-block kill to reach match point, 14-12.
Anima saved a point for the Green Spikers, 14-13, but Salarzon delivered the off-the-block spike to end the two-hour and 33-minute game.
“We’re thankful because we kept our Final Four hopes alive but I keep on telling them that the process will be hard just to get a shot at the Final Four,” said Ateneo coach Timmy Sto. Tomas, whose team will take on unbeaten National University next week.
“So at least, they worked hard for this win so I’m very happy that everyone responded well to the challenge,” he added.
Abai Llenos also stepped up for the Blue Eagles with 12 points. Jet Gopio had five blocks to finish with nine markers, while Lance De Castro protected the floor with 14 receptions and nine digs.
Noel Kampton’s 21-point effort went for naught as La Salle’s two-game winning streak was halted. JM Ronquillo and Vince Maglinao chipped in 17 points each, as Anima tallied a game-high six blocks to finish with 11 markers.
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