DEFENDING champion Ateneo denied Adamson's late rally to come away with a 70-52 win Wednesday in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles denied the Soaring Falcons' late uprising after seeing their lead dwindle down to just five, 57-52 in the final 4:26, answering back with a 13-0 finishing kick to reinstate the lead back to double digits and cruise to the 18-point triumph.
Ange Kouame starred for the three-peat-seeking Ateneo with his 17 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks, and three steals for the opening day victory.
Matt Nieto added 14 points, four assists, and two boards, Thirdy Ravena got himself a double-double with his 10 points, 13 rebounds, four dimes, one steal, and one rejection, and Will Navarro just missed out on a double-double of his own with his nine points and 11 boards.
"We knew it was going to be tough," admitted coach Tab Baldwin.
"It's the last team I really wanted to see in the first game. I had my deja vu moments in the second half. I thought we did a really good job in Jerrick (Ahanmisi) and now we got to deal with this Valandre Chauca kid and he's really tough."
Ateneo was poised to break away in the third quarter, taking a 48-26 advantage before Valandre Chauca ignited Adamson's rally, cutting the lead down to 10, 48-36 heading to the payoff period and to just five, 50-45, with 7:09 to play as Lenda Douanga capped off the 19-2 run with a floater.
Chauca carried the Soaring Falcons with 17 points on a 3-of-6 shooting from threes, to go with his four assists as they were able to bounce back after a listless first quarter that saw them stare at a 16-6 deficit.
Ahanmisi and Congolese big man Douanga were both limited to just seven points apiece in the Adamson loss.
ATENEO 70 -- Kouame 17, Ma. Nieto 14, Ravena 10, Navarro 9, Belangel 7, Go 4, Mi. Nieto 3, Wong 3, Mamuyac 2, Tio 1, Andrade 0, Daves 0, Credo 0.
ADAMSON 52 -- Chauca 17, Ahanmisi 7, Douanga 7, Camacho 4, Manlapaz 4, Fermin 4, Flowers 4, Lastimosa 3, Magbuhos 2, Zaldivar 0, Bernardo 0, Sabandal 0, Yerro 0, Mojica 0.
Quarters: 16-6, 32-23, 48-36, 70-52.