MANILA, Philippines - Nico Salva rediscovered his deadly shooting on Sunday to help Ateneo beat Adamson, 79-72, and into the Final Four of the UAAP basketball tournament for the 14th straight time at the Mall of Asia Arena.
A big disappointment in the team's stunning 79-77 loss to University of the East on Thursday, Salva made the big shots when needed most by hitting 12 of his career-tying 24 points in the payoff period to help the Blue Eagles put away the stubborn Falcons.
His jumper with 3:02 left enabled Ateneo to finally grab the lead for good. He also scored 24 in Game 1 of their title series with Far Eastern University last year.
Salva, who scored only eight points on 3-of-11 shooting the last time, made 11-of-14 shots in 35 minutes aside from posting four rebounds and four assists.
The defending champions improved to a league-best 10-2 record while avoiding another upset after a humbling loss to also-ran UE.
In the other game, reigning Most Valuable Player Bobby Ray Parks registered his sixth career 30-point outing by hitting 32 points as National University defeated La Salle, 72-62, to gain the solo fourth spot in the standings.
Inspired by the UAAP board's decision to order a replay of last week's 77-75 loss to FEU, the Bulldogs improved to 7-4 to overtake the Green Archers who dropped to fifth spot at 7-5.
Also stepping up big for Ateneo were center Greg Slaughter, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds and Kiefer Ravena, who tallied 15 points, four rebounds and three steals.
Nico Elorde also did well as he scattered 10 points in 15 minutes.
Ateneo, however, lost center JP Erram to an injury at the end of the third when he landed awkwardly during a rebound play.
Adamson dropped to 2-10 despite another fine game from Eric Camson who made 26 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals.
It was another disappointing defeat for the Falcons who led most of the game only to allow the win to slip away in the last three minutes just like what happened to them in their games against National University, FEU and University of Santo Tomas.