The absence of Thirdy Ravena and the Nieto twins was hardly felt by the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, as Angelo Kouame towed the defending champions to a dominant 82-62 triumph over the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, Saturday evening at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Ravena was suspended for the game, while both Matt and Mike Nieto are recovering from a case of dengue fever.
With them out, Kouame took over the game, as the Ivorian student-athlete tallied 33 points and 27 rebounds.
“We’re very happy with the win and we are also very happy with his performance. We are also concerned with the condition of Prince Orizu. We are praying for him,” said Blue Eagles assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
Orizu, who stands at 6-foot-10, hurt his left ankle with 2:59 left in the first quarter. He did not return to the game.
With Orizu out, the Tamaraws struggled to contain Kouame, who scored 11 points in the second stanza, The 6-foot-11 big man outscored the entire Tamaraws squad during that span by five points.
The Tamaraws – who were without Arvin Tolentino as he was serving a two-game ban – made a late push, cutting a once-20 point lead down to just 14 after a rare four-point play by Ino Comboy. But Kouame would answer right back with a personal 8-0 spurt to extend the lead to 22 points.
It was not all Kouame for the Blue Eagles, as graduating senior Anton Asistio chipped in 15 points.
“We took advantage of our opportunities. FEU was locking down on our shooters that is why Ange was freed up. Credit to our guards for looking for him,” added Arespacochaga.
The Blue Eagles are at 7-2 for share of first with the Adamson Soaring Falcons. On the other hand, the Tamaraws dropped to a tie for third with a 5-4 slate, tied with the DLSU Green Archers.
Richard Escoto saw extended minutes for FEU, finishing with 13 points and 12 rebounds – eight from the offensive end. Hubert Cani, a former Blue Eagle, also had 13 markers.
FEU shot just 29 percent from the field and were out-rebounded 42-55.
Ateneo will next face the University of the East Red Warriors on Wednesday, October 24, at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. FEU, on the other hand, face the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons on the same day at 4:00pm.
ADMU (82) – Kouame 33, Asistio 15, Tio 8, Wong 7, Mamuyac 6, Verano 4, Mendoza 3, Andrade 2, Belangel 2, Go 2, Black 0, Daves 0, Navarro 0.
FEU (62) – Escoto 13, Cani 13, Bienes 8, Parker 7, Comboy 6, Nunag 4, Eboña 3, Stockton 2, Tuffin 2, Orizu 2, Iñigo 2, Gonzales 0, Jopia 0, Ramirez 0.
Quarterscores: 16-16, 34-22, 62-42, 82-62