Ateneo received the most important struggle of all—not less than, for this season.
Happening a powerful tear to start out the sport, the Blue Eagles weathered a late determined cost by the College of the Philippines (UP) Maroons to forge a 75-68 victory and retake the UAAP males’s basketball crown from the defending champions.
Ange Kouame completed with 19 factors 12 rebounds and 4 blocks and Ateneo absolutely capitalized on the absence of UP’s key two-way stalwart, Zavier Lucero, to open up the sport with 5 triples and a 30-12 begin to seize management of the deciding Sport 3 at Sensible Araneta Coliseum.
“This implies rather a lot to me as a result of no person believed in us; even we didn’t consider in us within the begin. However coach Tab [Baldwin] is the person and we simply adopted his lead,” mentioned the 6-foot-10 naturalized Filipino, who was named Finals Most Invaluable Participant after averaging 17.7 factors, 11.0 rebounds and three.0 blocks within the sequence.
Kouame, who had nagging accidents all season, additionally scored a key three-point play and swatted a Carl Tamayo try to dampen UP’s final stand and assist the Blue Eagles reclaim the throne that they ceded to the Maroons final season.
“The ache is simply psychological, it’s simply within the thoughts. After I go residence tonight, it is going to nonetheless damage. Due to the Ateneo group. Ateneo that is for you,’’ Kouame mentioned.
Ateneo thus bagged its twelfth UAAP males’s basketball crown persevering with a domination of the event that has spanned the final twenty years.
“We’re simply very blessed that we received it this time. It’s in regards to the gamers. I’m happy with them and I really feel blessed to be working with them,’’ mentioned Baldwin on his fourth UAAP title with the Blue Eagles.
“I’m so grateful for his or her effort and I’m the fortunate man to have the ability to work with them and you understand, I’m the fortunate man to have the ability to work with this college, so I’ll go away it at that,’’ he added.
Down 12 within the fourth, UP rallied to inside 5 factors, 67-62, with 2:12 left within the sport.
Ateneo rebuilt an eight-point cushion however Harold Alarcon’s off-balanced three following an intentional miss from the charity stripe additional trimmed the deficit, 70-67, 20 seconds to play.
BJ Andrade’s freebies within the dying seconds, nevertheless, secured the win.
Whereas the total home Ateneo devoted had been ecstatic and stayed on to have fun the feat, the UP crowd slowly made a beeline towards the Araneta Coliseum exit, heads bowed and dejected.
“These guys. These guys proper there, these folks proper there, and the help of the Ateneo folks worldwide. An important begin to the sport, an important first half, and we weathered the storm,” mentioned Baldwin.
Redeeming themselves from that basic Sport 3 finals setback final season, the Blue Eagles have now captured 4 of the final 5 UAAP titles whereas denying the Maroons a uncommon feat of successful two UAAP basketball championships in the identical 12 months.
Ateneo’s punishing protection additionally got here to fore, forcing the Maroons into robust, challenged makes an attempt the missed their mark.
Tamayo sparked a rally that reduce the deficit to 9 within the first half, however a giant three by the 6-foot-11 Geo Chiu and a Forthsky Padrigao floater after eluding JD Cagulangan with a crossover gave Ateneo a 47-32 lead on the break.
It was the primary time UP misplaced back-to-back matches in 36 video games beneath coach Goldwyn Monteverde. UP seized the sequence opener, however the Blue Eagles got here storming again in Sport 2.
And even worse for UP, Lucero went down in Sport 2 on a noncontact play and ripped his left knee ACL. The 6-foot-7’s absence created a void on each ends of the ground that UP couldn’t fill.
Lucero cheered from the bench helpless as his crew took a beating. UP gave Lucero a correct sendoff, although. The graduating ahead, who was in uniform, checked in and made a technical free throw with 0.7 seconds remaining. INQ
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