For the second straight season, it will be Ateneo de Manila University versus University of the Philippines in the UAAP men’s basketball finals.
Just hours after the Fighting Maroons escaped National University, the Blue Eagles thrashed Adamson University, 81-60, to advance to its sixth consecutive Finals appearance on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game One of the best-of-three championship series will be on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“We had our best offensive performance of the year. I think when you get some time to prepare and your opponent doesn’t have much time… And they were playing on heart, they were playing on Nash’s brain, and all of those things they have a ton of,” said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.
“But the cauldron of the semifinals, you need more than that. You need time to prepare, you need rest, and you need a full team hitting on all cylinders. And tonight we were that team,” continued Baldwin.
Already ahead by eight early in the third period, Dave Ildefonso scored eight straight points. Then Ange Kouame and Chris Koon connived to end the quarter with 19 unanswered points.
Ateneo had a 27-point advantage heading into the fourth, 63-36.
Sean Quitevis then opened the payoff frame with another trey to put the Blue Eagles up by 30 with 9:14 left, 66-36. Jed Colonia made the Soaring Falcons’ first basket in nine minutes with 8:30 to go.
Jerom Lastimosa last scored on a layup at the 7:27 mark of the third.
Forthsky Padrigao had 16 points and five assists, while Koon was 4-of-5 from deep to end with 15 points to go with five assists and a plus-21 in his 19 minutes on the floor.
Kai Ballungay chimed in 13 points, while Ildefonso had 11 points and nine rebounds.
On the other hand, Lastimosa was the lone Falcon in double figures. He had 10 points on a woeful 4-of-15 shooting from the field.
Didat Hanapi got nine points, while Cedrick Manzano produced eight points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks.
Ateneo 81 — Padrigao 16, Koon 15, Ballungay 13, Ildefonso 11, Kouame 9, Andrade 5, Gomez 3, Quitevis 3, Garcia 3, Daves 2, Lao 1, Lazaro 0, Chiu 0, Fetalvero 0, Fornilos 0, Ong 0.
Adamson 60 –– Lastimosa 10, Hanapi 9, Manzano 8, Yerro 7, Douanga 6, Flowers 6, Torres 5, Sabandal 3, V. Magbuhos 3, Colonia 2, Manlapaz 1, Fuentebella 0, Jaymalin 0, Barasi 0, W. Magbuhos 0, Barcelona.
Quarterscores: 20-13, 39-29, 63-36, 81-60.