Nine months after their finals showdown, the Ateneo de Manila University showed the University of the Philippines how far discipline can lead a team.
Defending two-time UAAP champions Blue Eagles showed uncanny poise and patience against last season’s foils, the Fighting Maroons, taking a masterful 89-63 win to close out the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Sunday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Ivorian slotman Ange Kouame was at the top of the mountain with his statline of 19 points, 15 rebounds, and seven blocks, to complete the first round sweep at 7-0.
Matt Nieto nabbed a season-high 18 points, five boards, and three assists. Meanwhile, Will Navarro was deadly with his 14 points, six rebounds, and a block.
Thirdy Ravena chipped in 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists, while SJ Belangel scored 11 for the Ateneo victory in front of a capacity 19,861 gate attendance.
“I thought our guys played fairly and methodically,” said coach Tab Baldwin. “We didn’t get carried away with the crowd and the emotions. After all, it’s just a regular season game.”
The Blue Eagles were unflappable in the face of pressure, taking charge in the third quarter. They turned the game from a close 35-31 halftime lead to a 45-32 edge with 7:29 left.
Tensions continued to build, erupting when coach Bo Perasol was ejected at the 6:23 mark of the third quarter when he confronted a referee for what he felt were a series of non-calls.
That incident benefited Ateneo more as they continued to pad the lead, reaching its highest at 27, 89-62, thanks to a triple from Tyler Tio in the waning seconds.
Kobe Paras scored 15 points on a horrid 4-of-15 clip to lead UP.
Javi Gomez de Liano uncorked 14 points and two boards, while Jun Manzo got 12 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
The defeat kept the Fighting Maroons in second place with their 5-2 win-loss slate.
The second round of begins next Saturday, October 5.
Ateneo 89 — Kouame 19, Ma. Nieto 18, Navarro 14, Ravena 13, Belangel 11, Tio 5, Wong 4, Go 3, Mamuyac 2, Andrade 0, Chiu 0, Credo 0, Daves 0, Maagdenberg 0, Mi. Nieto 0.
UP 63 — Paras 15, Ja. Gomez de Liano 14, Manzo 12, Ju. Gomez de Liano 8, Akhuetie 6, Rivero 6, Webb 2, Gob 0, Jaboneta 0, Mantilla 0, Murrell 0, Prado 0, Spencer 0, Tungcab 0.
Quarterscores: 15-21, 35-31, 61-46, 89-63.