Ateneo de Manila University showcased its cohesion, zooming past TNT in a tuneup game, 103-86, Saturday at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center in Katipunan, Quezon City.
The Blue Eagles seized control of the match in the second chapter and then shifted into higher gear come the deciding period that left the KaTropa without any answers.
The reigning three-time UAAP gold medalists were without head coach Tab Baldwin as the decorated mentor was rushed into the hospital Friday after feeling unwell during team practice.
“This was a good practice game for both of us. Ateneo’s in medyo mas better shape. The system is in place na, while TNT is ironing out theirs,” said Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
“It was good for both teams. It was good for Ateneo. We got to play against pros. We got to play against a good team.”
Dwight Ramos produced 22 points to lead the Blue Eagles, who unloaded a 10-2 run to turn a slim four-point lead to an 84-72 advantage with 8:38 left to play to break the game wide open.
Tyler Tio added 13 points while Ange Kouame added nine markers and nine rebounds for Ateneo, who is preparing for the Philippine Collegiate Champions League set next week.
Ateneo beat a TNT side that is gearing up for the new PBA season that raises its curtains on March 8.
The flagship MVP franchise has welcomed Poy Erram, who immediately joined the KaTropa a day after the three-team trade that involved NLEX and Blackwater was approved by the league.
The 6-foot-8 Erram, though, didn’t play, while Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario only played for limited minutes.
Rosario got shaken a bit with about eight minutes to go in the second quarter when he and Kouame chased the loose ball. He appeared to have hurt his ankle and never returned to the game.
“That was good. I mean, Ateneo is really difficult to play against,” said TNT active consultant Mark Dickel. “They play defense and it doesn’t really matter who they have on the court, you know.
“They’re really organized. And that was the first game we’ve had, so nothing out of the ordinary of what I was totally expecting to happen. So you know, we’ll be better for that,” he added.