Ateneo de Manila University’s fresh legs ran University of Santo Tomas to the ground, dominating Game One, 91-77, to draw first blood in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Thirdy Ravena set the pace for the Blue Eagles’ track meet, uncorking a superb 32-point performance on a hyper-efficient 14-of-18 field goal shooting. He also had five rebounds and three assists, solidifying his stellar play in the championship rounds to once again add to the lore of “Finals Thirdy”.
His early assault — firing 11 points in the opening quarter — set the tone for Ateneo’s quick 20-4 start. They then escalated the lead to 19, 36-17.
Mark Nonoy willed UST back, cutting the lead down to three, 41-38, with 2:43 left in the second quarter. But Ravena reappeared, ushering a 13-1 salvo that made it a 54-39 lead at the half.
The lead again bloomed to 23 points numerous times in the second half, largely thanks to the Blue Eagles’ sky-high 52-percent clip from the field.
“It’s good to get the win, obviously. But we tend to not really see that as a win. But we see that as a first half of basketball, and we just get a long halftime break before Game Two,” said coach Tab Baldwin.
Ange Kouame added a double-double of 18 points, 12 boards, and five assists. Meanwhile, SJ Belangel scored all of his 12 points from distance, to go with five dimes, four rebounds, and two steals in the win.
Nonoy, the season’s Rookie of the Year, fired a career-best 26 points on a 7-of-14 shooting from deep, but hardly got any support from the Growling Tigers.
Brent Paraiso also scored 14 points powered by four triples. Soulemane Chabi Yo got 13, with 10 rebounds.
Ateneo can complete the 16-0 season sweep and a rare three-peat with a victory in Game Two. It would be the school’s 11th UAAP championship if it triumphs in the second duel against UST on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
ADMU 91 — Ravena 32, Kouame 18, Belangel 12, Mamuyac 9, Navarro 6, Mi. Nieto 5, Ma. Nieto 5, Wong 3, Daves 2, Andrade 0, Go 0, Maagdenberg 0, Mallillin 0.
UST 77 — Nonoy 26, Paraiso 14, Chabi Yo 13, Subido 8, Cansino 4, Abando 3, Concepcion 3, Ando 2, Bataller 2, Huang 2.
Quarterscores: 32-17, 54-39, 76-58, 91-77.
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