ATENEO once again turned to its patented third-quarter tear to subdue University of the East, 91-76, on Sunday in the UAAP Season 85 men's basketball tournament at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
The Blue Eagles put on their running shoes in the third quarter, using a killer 17-0 blast to turn a slim 46-44 halftime lead into a commanding 63-44 advantage with 4:58 left in the frame.
Ateneo's defense held UE to just six points the entire quarter as it extended its lead to its biggest at 22, 83-61, after Kai Ballungay's dunk with 3:28 left.
Dave Ildefonso led the attack for the Katipunan side with his 20 points, four rebounds, and one steal as the Blue Eagles ended the first round of the eliminations with back-to-back wins for a 5-2 (win-loss) record.
Senior BJ Andrade also had his best game this season making three treys to highlight his 11 points, eight boards, and three assists.
Ballungay also tallied 14 points, five rebounds, and two assists, Forthsky Padrigao had 11 points, nine dimes, and two boards, and Ange Kouame just missed out of a double-double with his eight points, 10 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
"We're pretty comfortable with where we're at," said coach Tab Baldwin. "Of course, we'd like to have a higher placing, but the two games we lost were competitive games."
"I think we played pretty good basketball today especially in the second half. We're getting better, we're growing, we're learning, and that's what you're supposed to do over the course of a season.
"And the second round is gonna be competitive and challenging, but we feel good. We feel good about where we're at, we feel good about our team. We're ready to go."
UE tasted back-to-back losses to end the first round, but still found itself in the thick of the race with a 3-4 record after the first seven games.
UE missed 12 consecutive shots from deep before Luis Villegas ended the drought at the 7:04 mark of the payoff period. By that point, though, Ateneo was already leading via comfortable 17-point cushion, 70-53.
Kyle Paranada only made one of his four shots from deep for his 17 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two steals.
Harvey Pagsanjan also nabbed 17 points, three boards, and two dimes, while Villegas got 10 points and 13 rebounds.
ATENEO 91 - Ildefonso 20, Ballungay 14, Padrigao 11, Andrade 11, Kouame 8, Lazaro 6, Garcia 6, Fornilos 4, Gomez 3, Koon 2, Chiu 2, Quitevis 2, Daves 2, Fetalvero 0, Lao 0, Ong 0.
UE 76 - Pagsanjan 17, K. Paranada 17, Villegas 10, Stevens 8, Remogat 6, Payawal 5, Alcantara 4, Sawat 2, Beltran 0, Antiporda 0, Guevarra 0.
Quarters: 21-21, 46-44, 65-50, 91-76.