Hakuoh Ends Ateneo’s Reign in World University Basketball Series

The Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles saw their title defense come to an end as they succumbed to Hakuoh University, 58-73, in the semifinals of the World University Basketball Series on Saturday, August 12, at the National Yoyogi Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.

The Blue Eagles, who won the inaugural edition of the tournament last year, were unable to replicate their dominant performance in their opening game against University of Sydney, where they cruised to a 50-88 victory.

Instead, they found themselves in a tight contest against Hakuoh, who trailed by only two points, 35-33, at the end of the third quarter. The Japanese team then unleashed a furious rally in the final period, taking the lead for good with a 47-45 advantage with 7:39 remaining. They capped off their comeback with a 9-0 run that sealed the deal for them.

Ateneo’s chances of mounting a late comeback were hampered by the fouling out of their big men Geo Chiu and Joseph Obasa, who combined for 18 points and 12 rebounds. The Blue Eagles also struggled from the three-point line, making only four out of 21 attempts.

Hakuoh, on the other hand, shot 50 percent from beyond the arc, making 11 out of 22 triples. They were led by Shota Tsuyama, who had a game-high 23 points on seven three-pointers. He was ably supported by Yuki Kawamura, who added 16 points and six assists.

With the win, Hakuoh advanced to the finals, where they will face University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who defeated Radford University, 81-69, in the other semifinal match.

Ateneo, meanwhile, will try to salvage some pride as they battle Radford for the bronze medal. The Blue Eagles will hope to bounce back from their disappointing loss and end their campaign on a high note.

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