THERE was no stopping Ateneo in its bid for a repeat as it crushed Far Eastern University, 80-61, to book the first finals berth in the UAAP Season 81 on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles scored eight straight points to start the game, highlighted by back-to-back dunks by Thirdy Ravena, prompting Tamaraws head coach Olsen Racela to call an early timeout.
But that was only a sign of things to come.
Ravena only picked up from there and he found help from nearly everyone. The Blue Eagles opened a 14-point lead at the half before scoring the first 15 points in the third period where they led by as many as 31 points, 59-28.
The closest FEU got after that was within 17 points.
With the blowout win, the the top-seeded and twice-to-beat Blue Eagles will now be playing in the finals for third successive season and the 12th time overall, targeting a 10th championship.
They'll be awaiting the winner of the knockout match between No. 2 Adamson and third-seed University of the Philippines, which will play a decider on Wednesday after the Maroons' dramatic victory on Wednesday.
“We knew coming into this game that FEU is coming off two great wins against Adamson and La Salle. We wanted to make sure from the start that we’re locked in. We recognize their key players who we want to defend,” said Ateneo assistant Sandy Arespacochaga.
“We got out to a good start and we wanted to sustain it. We wanted to make sure that there were no dips in our performance,” he added.
Ravena came out with a big performance as usual, finishing with 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
Angelo Kouame added 18 points, 11 rebounds and four shot blocks. Raffy Verano, Matt Nieto and Isaac Go also had their moments, combining for 19 to support the pair.
No player from the Tamaraws breached double digits as Barkley Ebona led the way for them with nine points. Prince Orizu finished his collegiate career with the Tamaraws with seven points and four rebounds.
ATENEO 80 – Ravena 22, Kouame 18, Verano 7, Nieto Ma 6, Go 6, Nieto Mi 5, Belangel 4, Mamuyac 3, Asistio 3, Mendoza 3, Black 2, Tio 1, Wong 0, Navarro 0, Daves 0, Andrade 0
FEU 61 – Ebona 9, Orizu 7, Ramirez 7, Gonzales 6, Inigo 5, Tolentino 5, Stockton 5, Tuffin 4, Parker 4, Escoto 4, Comboy 3, Cani 2, Bienes 0, Bayquin 0, Jopia 0, Nunag 0
Quarters: 17-9, 38-24, 59-36, 80-61