ANGE Kouame captained Cignal-Ateneo's telling third quarter outburst to take the 38-point rout of Valencia City Bukidnon-SSCR, 105-67, in Game One of their 2019 PBA D-League semifinals Monday at Paco Arena in Manila.
The Ivorian slotman uncorked 13 of his 19 points in the third frame as the Blue Eagles ran away from a 52-all deadlock and stage a killer 14-2 blast to grab a 66-54 lead. He also grabbed 20 rebounds and four blocks in the win.
"Coach Tab (Baldwin) just reminded our players to follow our rules on defense," said deputy coach Sandy Arespacochaga. "There were times that we were playing individual defense and not team defense. Coach Tab wanted us to put emphasis on our defense and our players took that to heart in the third."
That was all Cignal-Ateneo needed as it buried Valencia-SSCR in the second half, 71 in the second half as it shot on a 35-percent clip from downtown.
Mike Nieto also had his share with 12 points, Thirdy Ravena got 10 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists, as Matt Nieto and Jolo Mendoza combined for 21.
The Blue Eagles can sweep the best-of-three series and advance to the Finals on Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
RK Ilagan powered the Golden Harvest with 24 points on a 3-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc, as Allyn Bulanadi got 23 points and seven rebounds in the loss.
CIGNAL-ATENEO 105 -- Kouame 19, Mi. Nieto 12, Mendoza 11, Ma. Nieto 10, Ravena 10, Belangel 9, Wong 9, Mamuyac 7, Navarro 6, Andrade 6, Credo 3, Daves 2, Go 1, Tio 0, Berjay 0.
VALENCIA-SSCR 67 -- Ilagan 24, Bulanadi 23, Capobres 8, Calma 8, Dela Cruz 2, Villapando 1, Tero 1, Sumoda 0, Bonleon 0, Desoyo 0, Are 0, Altamirano 0, Loristo 0, Calahat 0.
Quarters: 17-19, 34-35, 66-54, 105-67.