ATENEO is a win away from making school history after smothering National University 88-51 to close in on an elimination-round sweep in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Ange Kouame dominated once more, leading a prolific attack for the Blue Eagles in the first half on both ends where they instantly took a 44-27 lead - a lead they never relinquished.
Kouame wound up with 17 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks, 13 of which coming in the first half as they moved a win away from claiming the first elims sweep in school history.
“It’s satisfying. Two weeks in a row, two games in a row, we’ve come out with a great attitude,” Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin said.
“Sure we put points on the board, made some shots, but I think what we really focused on was our defense and rebounding.”
It was a dream start for the three-peat seeking Blue Eagles as they opened with an 18-6 spread early in the first quarter following a bailout three from Gian Mamuyac.
The lead remained on that range before the Blue Eagles ended the first half with seven unanswered points, capped off by a Thirdy Ravena dunk with 23 seconds left in the half.
It would only get worse from there for the Bulldogs.
The Blue Eagles clamped down on defense in the third period, limiting the Bulldogs to just nine points as they continued to pound away on their helpless foes — outworking their struggling counterparts on both ends of the floor.
A Troy Malilin basket capped off the biggest lead of the night at 37, the biggest winning margin of the season, before the final buzzer, mercifully, ended the Bulldogs’ misery.
“We’ve seen our team, really, transfer the work ethic from practice to the court, into the game and that’s gratifying as a coach,” Baldwin added.
Ravena was the only other Atenean in double-digits as he finished with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists but that only highlighted the balanced attack of the Blue Eagles as nearly everyone scored with the exception of starting guard Matt Nieto who still contributed seven rebounds and three assists.
Shaun Ildefonso led the way for the Bulldogs with 21 points off the bench but found little help as they absorbed their fourth consecutive loss to drop to 2-11.
Dave Ildefonso was again shackled by the unforgiving Ateneo defense as he was limited to just two points on 1-5 shooting in 26 minutes of action, a far cry from his averages of 16 points a game.
Ateneo 88 - Kouame 17, Ravena 15, Tio 9, Wong 8, Belangel 7, Mamuyac 5, Mi. Nieto 5, Andrade 4, Daves 4, Go 4, Malilin 4, Chiu 3, Maagdemberg 3, Ma. Nieto 0
NU 51 - S. Ildefonso 21, Gallego 9, Tibayan 8, Minerva 4, Clemente 3, Gaye 2, D. Ildefonso 2, Diputado 0, Galinato 0, Joson 0, Malonzo 0, Mangayao 0, Mosqueda 0, Oczon 0, Yu 0
Quarterscores: 22-12; 44-27; 65-36; 88-51