ATENEO put on a five-star performance from start to finish, clinching the UAAP Season 81 championship after dominating University of the Philippines 99-81 on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Thirdy Ravena picked up exactly where he left off from Game One as he finished with a career-high 38 points to tow the Blue Eagles to their second straight title -and their 10th championship overall in the school history.
Ravena pumped in 17 points in the first half alone as the Blue Eagles started pulling away from the upset-conscious Fighting Maroons whose only taste of the lead came when Paul Desiderio drained a three-pointer to start the game.
From then on, it was all Ateneo.
Ravena got all the support he needed in the first half, from comebacking Ange Kouame to reserve rookie guard SJ Belangel who scored back-to-back baskets late in the first quarter to spark a 10-0 run and create separation from the Fighting Maroons for good.
By the start of the third quarter, half of the record-setting 23,471 fans in attendance were already in joyous anticipation of another championship, as the Maroon-clad area anxiously hoped and waited for one last miracle.
In vain, it turned out.
Nothing came – as the Blue Eagles led by as many as 22, with Ravena hitting three triples in the payoff period to put the final nails in the coffin of the Fighting Maroons, who remained without a league title in 32 years.
The Blue Eagles went on to score the most number of points in a championship game in the last 15 years.
“I wanna thank the players. They’re a marvelous team, they’re a joy to work with the whole season. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to work with them,” said Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin.
“It is our priority to do everything with dignity and class and long we may do this,” he added.
Ravena embellished his scoring outburst with six rebounds, six assists and three steals as he was later adjudged the Finals MVP for the second straight year. He put up averages of 29.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 2.5 steals and a block in the finals.
Koume bounced back from a sub-par performance in the first game with 22 points and 20 rebounds and two blocks as Raffy Verano added 11 for the Blue Eagles, who are slowly looking like a collegiate dynasty yet again.
Only Anton Asistio will be graduating for the Blue Eagles and the spitfire guard will be exiting the UAAP with two titles under his belt.
Juan Gomez de Liano led the way for the Fighting Maroons with 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists while Bright Akhuetie courageously played through a hyperextended knee injury to finish with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Paul Desiderio’s magical senior year ended not exactly the way he wanted to, though he finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Ateneo 99 - Ravena 38, Kouame 22, Verano 11, Tio 7, Nieto Ma. 6, Asistio 6, Belangel 6, Go 3, Nieto Mi. 0, Mamuyac 0, Mendoza 0, Andrade 0, Black 0, Wong 0, Daves 0, Navarro 0.
UP 81 - Gomez de Liaño Ju. 24, Akhuetie 19, Desiderio 15, Gomez de Liaño Ja. 11, Dario 8, Lim 2, Vito 2, Manzo 0, Jaboneta 0, Murrell 0, Spencer 0, Prado 0, Española 0, Longa 0.
Quarters: 25-13, 48-37, 70-56, 99-81