In a rivalry dubbed as the Battle of Katipunan, emotions run at an all-time high this time.
But after the dust had settled, it was Ateneo De Manila who put themselves in check and came out winners in a 98-88 decision over their tormentor University of the Philippines in the 69th UAAP men's basketball eliminations last August 20 at the Araneta Coliseum.
With the win, the Blue Eagles have clinched a spot in the Final Four with an 8-0 card.
After holding a precarious one-point margin in the final canto, 80-79, the Loyola Heights-based cagers took off led by a pair of Doug Kramer putbacks for an 86-79 margin. Then, it was showtime as high flyer JC Intal finished a dunk to cap an 8-0 blast which put Ateneo in a threshold for its eighth straight win.
Intal went baseline and soared over the outstretch hands of VJ Serios, a highlight film that simply dazzled the Blue Eagle faithful with only 4:41 left in the game.
Chris Tiu paved the way for Ateneo scoring 21 points on 5-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc. Kramer contributed 16 markers and 19 boards while Intal chipped in 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
"Our goal now was is to make the top slot to avoid FEU and NU which is two of the strongest teams in the league," said Ateneo coach Norman Black. "We want to avoid the others because if we stumble, UE is right in our heels and they have a chance to catch us."
The game was tense though as UP coach Joe Lipa was thrown out of the game for continuous complaining in the 9:03 mark of the second quarter. Feeling that calls were not going their way, the fiery head coach led his players out of the playing court in an apparent threat to walkout.
But after about three minutes, the Maroons returned to the floor.
The UP coaching staff complained of two non-calls by the officials in the second quarter that led to the near walkout. One is a shove by Ford Arao and a hand-check foul committed to Migs De Asis made in front of the UP bench.
Meanwhile, basketball commissioner Elmer Yanga said that his office is not in the position to sanction a coach. Under the rules, the technical committee is the one tasked to penalize a coach and not the Office of the Commissioner.
After the incident, the Maroons injected some life after initiating a nine-point onslaught led by Migs De Asis and Marvin Cruz that led to a 53-50 UP lead at halftime.
Tiu went to work in the third period after a four-point play and a triple made it a 61-all count. Kramer would score twice in a stretch that gave Ateneo a 72-65 advantage. The Maroons would fought back compounding a 8-0 blast to retake the lead, 73-72, but bench player Martin Quimson scored a free-throw and Yuri Escueta made a putback to end the third with Ateneo in front, 75-73.
Quimson was again helpful in the fourth scoring three charities and a follow-up that resulted in an 80-77 count. Serios would score a short stab before that furious run by Ateneo ended UP's hopes.
Cruz led UP with 22 points and 11 rebounds while rookie Woody Co had 20. Martin Reyes and Migs De Asis each had 13 and 11 respectively for the Maroons.
UP's next assignment - against Adamson on August 20 - is a must-win situation as it is in danger of missing the Final Four ticket with a 2-7 card. On the other hand, Ateneo faces UST on August 27.