Starting the game with just five players and ending it with nine, UAAP champions Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles still persevered. They eventually outlasted NCAA kings San Beda Red Lions, 74-62, Thursday afternoon at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
In the absence of Angelo Kouame, who had to attend class, Isaac Go was the rock for the Blue Eagles. Go finished with 28 points on 7-of-12 shooting from downtown, to go along with 10 rebounds and two blocks.
Besides his offensive output, Go also limited Donald Tankoua to just eight points on 3-of-14 shooting.
Go was one of five Blue Eagles – namely Tyler Tio, Jason Credo, RV Berjay, and Adrian Wong – who were part of the warm-ups before the game.
“I told the guys before the game – we only had five guys. And they did a heck of a job, they kept the pace where it needed to be. That set the tone for when the other guys came in,” said Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin, who himself came from the States.
That Ateneo Five were able to keep pace with the Red Lions in the first frame.
Fellow Xaverian Tio added 18 points and five assists in 31 minutes of action.
Thirdy Ravena, Jolo Mendoza, SJ Belangel, and BJ Andrade only suited up during the second stanza, as Ateneo picked up a 10-point lead heading into the half.
“No heroes needed. They just needed to do what they needed to do. Today we played well,” added Baldwin.
Behind James Canlas, Calvin Otana, and Donald Tankoua, the Red Lions came storming back in the final frame, cutting the lead down to three with 8:04 left. But Go and Tio did not let their efforts go to waste, knocking down three straight triples to break the game wide open.
Ateneo would lead by as much as 16 points, 72-56.
“They went out there and under conditions that weren’t ideal. I think it just says something about them wanting to play the game the right way,” gushed Baldwin.
Besides Kouame, the Nieto twins, Gian Mamuyac, Aaron Black, William Navarro, and Matthew Daves also had classes to attend to.
Canlas led San Beda with 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting with eight boards. Doiguez and Oftana finished with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
The rubber match between the two champion squads takes place on Saturday, January 26, at the same venue. The winner takes on CESAFI champions UV Green Lancers on Monday for the 2018 PCCL President’s Cup.
ADMU 74 — Go 28, Tio 18, Ravena 11, Wong 10, Andrade 3, Credo 3, Belangel 1, Mendoza 0, Berjay 0.
SBU 62 — Canlas 24, Doliguez 14, Oftana 13, Tankoua 8, Etrata 2, Nelle 1, Soberano 0, Abuda 0, Carino 0, Alfaro 0, Cuntapay 0, Obenza 0, Visser 0.
Quarterscores: 16-18, 38-28, 51-44, 74-62.
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