Thirdy Ravena and Angelo Kouame led a fourth-quarter surge for the Blue Eagles, coming up with highlight plays on both ends as the Blue Eagles regained the top spot of the league, improving to 6-2.
The two combined for 17 points in the fourth, as they exploded for 29 to send the Fighting Maroons reeling to their second straight defeat which dropped to sixth place with a 3-5 record.
“It’s important for us to come out strong in the second round. We are coming off a loss to FEU. But more than that, we wanted to focus on UP,” said Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
“This is more than the standings for us. We wanted to mainly focus on our intensity. I think we did a pretty good job doing that,” he added.
Ravena finished with a season high 21 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks to lead the Blue Eagles who played without the Nieto brothers Matt and Mike, who are nursing minor injuries.
Matt’s absence at the point guard position was hardly felt though as Tyler Tio finished with 12 points and five assists as a starter without a turnover to run the Blue Eagles’ offense.
Raffy Verano and Jolo Mendoza added 10 points apiece as Kouame had 16 rebounds to go with nine points.
Bright Akhuetie, the leader in the MVP race this season, led the struggling Maroons with 20 points and eight rebounds while Paul Desiderio had his best scoring performance this season with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Star guard Juan Gomez de Liano however struggled to find his shot, scoring five points on 2 of 10 shooting.
Ateneo 83 – Ravena 21, Tio 12, Verano 10, Mendoza 10, Asistio 9, Kouame 9, Mamuyac 6, Belangel 4, Go 2, Navarro 0, Black 0, Wong 0.
UP 66 – Akhuetie 20, Desiderio 16, Manzo 8, Gomez de Liano Ju 5, Gomez de Liano Ja 4, Dario 3, Jaboneta 2, Prado 2, Murrell 2, Vito 2, Gozum 2, Spencer 0, Lim 0.
Quarterscores: 18-15; 35-29; 54-48; 83-66.