MANILA,  July 23, 2004
By Abac Cordero  -  Before the game, UE coach Dindo Pumaren made two wishes: that his players would play their best and that Ateneo would relax. He didnít get both.

In fact, everything went the other way around as the Blue Eagles raced to a huge 32-point lead in the third quarter before coasting to a 74-50 victory, their third in as many games in the 67th UAAP season.

"Sana mag-relax ang Ateneo at maganda ang ilaro namin," said the rookie coach from UE at the Araneta Coliseum parking lot, not knowing that the Blue Eagles will step on the gas early in dealing the Warriors their third loss in four games.

"We just played hard right from the start to avoid an upset. UE was coming off a win. I have nothing against Dindo just because heís the brother of Franz (the La Salle coach). I have high respect for the Pumarens," said Ateneo coach Sandy Arespacochaga.

A premature celebration almost cost the game for Santo Tomas when it blew a commanding 20-point lead in the third quarter before escaping wIth an 81-77 win over University of the Philippines in the first game.

The Tigers were up 63-43 when they started to rejoice, allowing the Maroons to wage a big comeback. A 22-0 run that started in the final four minutes of the third period and lasted until the first three minutes of the fourth gave UP a 65-63 lead.

Stung, the Tigers never knew what hit them, but proved to have just enough steam left to launch a counter-strike leading to their second win in three games for a tie with La Salle, Adamson and defending champion Far Eastern University.

The Maroons fell to 0-3 in a tie with NU and will have to spend a lot more time practicing their free throws if they want to score a first win this season. They missed a total of 17 free throws in the game that was decided by mere four points.

"My players became so emotional that they celebrated too early. We were surprised that UP was able to come back," said Santo Tomas coach Nel Parado whose counterpart, Lito Vergara, missed his second game for UP due to sickness.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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