Struggling on offense, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles relied on their stifling defense to romp the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 63-46, Saturday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Ange Kouame led the Blue Eagles in their fourth straight win with his 14 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks. Meanwhile, Adrian Wong scored 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from deep, on top of five assists.
Thirdy Ravena also did his part with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks for Ateneo.
The Blue Eagles started hot out of the gates with an 11-0 spurt. By the end of the opening frame, they held an 18-3 lead.
However, both squads then hit a road block on offense. The Blue Eagles went just 32-percent on field goals, while the Tamaraws shot 29-percent.
Kouame was able to help Ateneo slowly pull away with his trey at the 4:48 mark of the third quarter, erecting a 42-23 lead. But FEU fought back and got within 10, 51-41. The Blue Eagles then quickly answered back with a 9-0 spurt to hold a late 60-41 advantage.
“From the looks of it, we have to be a good defensive team since we can’t knock the ball down even in an ocean. That’s what we’re trying to do — to keep the offense of the opponents struggling,” said coach Tab Baldwin.
What worked for Ateneo were the turnovers, turning FEU’s 17 to 18 easy points.
Baldwin also took time to laud the efforts of Will Navarro, who was a plus-30 for Ateneo despite only notching four points and seven rebounds.
“He understands the little things that have to be done, and they’re the things that make the team play better. So, if we get everybody out there doing all the things that Will is doing, that plus-30 starts to be reflected in a lot of other players numbers. And that’s what we want to see,” said the former national team coach.
Barkley Ebona paced FEU (1-2) with eight points and eight rebounds. Rookie Xyrus Torres scored eight on a 2-of-7 night from deep.
Ateneo will have an eight-day break before facing the NU Bulldogs on Sunday, September 22, at 2:00 pm. On the other hand, FEU will take on the DLSU Green Archers on Wednesday, September 18, at 4:00 pm.
ADMU 63 –– Kouame 14, Wong 13, Ravena 12, Mi. Nieto 4, Navarro 4, Mamuyac 3, Ma. Nieto 3, Tio 3, Belangel 2, Daves 2, Go 2, Maagdenberg 1, Andrade 0, Chiu 0, Credo 0, Mallillin 0.
FEU 46 — Ebona 8, Torres 8, Comboy 6, Gonzales 6, Nunag 5, Bienes 4, Tuffin 3, Alforque 2, Tempra 2, Cani 1, Tchuente 1, Celzo 0, Dulatre 0, Mantua 0, Stockton 0.
Quarterscores: 18-6, 23-15, 47-32, 63-46.