THE first rivalry match between Ateneo and La Salle in the UAAP Season 81 wasn’t pretty, but it was a sight that every Blue Eagle fan in attendance certainly enjoyed watching.
Ateneo put on a defensive masterclass on Saturday afternoon as it shackled the Green Archers, 71-55, to take its fifth straight win at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Angelo Kouame once again imposed his will on the paint as the Blue Eagles kept their rivals at bay. However, the knockout blows came in the third period as Tyler Tio, Mike Nieto and Isaac Go anchored a huge run to take a 50-33 lead entering the fourth – it wasn’t long until the game was wrapped up.
Not even the Herculean effort of Aljun Melecio and the surprise return of the injured Kib Montalbo could spark a La Salle comeback.
“We knew that La Salle was also riding on a momentum coming off a win against UST. We wanted to make sure to focus on what we were gonna do and what we wanted to do in terms of our strategy,” said Ateneo assistant Sandy Arespacochaga.
“We’re very happy on the defensive end how played defense and how we forced turnovers,” he added.
Kouame continued his stellar form for the Blue Eagles as he finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and five blocks – putting on an amazing effort on both ends of the floor for the Blue Eagles.
Anton Asistio was the only other Blue Eagle in double digits as he finished with 12 points, making all but one of his five attempts from downtown which went along three assists.
The real highlight for the Blue Eagles came on the defensive end as they forced the Green Archers to 28 turnovers while limiting their assist numbers to three. Ravena for example, had three assists more than the entire La Salle squad.
As a team, the Green Archers shot just 29 percent, making just 18 of their 62 attempts while only hitting three of their 21 attempts from downtown.
Melecio was the only Green Archer in double digits as he finished with 21 points, though he made just five of his 18 shots from the field.
The usually reliable big men of La Salle were also limited as San Santillan and Justine Baltazar combined for just 11 points.
ATENEO 71 – Kouame 20, Asistio 12, Ravena 9, Verano 8, Navarro 6, Go 6, Tio 5, Nieto Mi 3, Nieto Ma 2, Wong 0, Mamuyac 0, Belangel 0, Mendoza 0
LA SALLE 55 – Melecio 21, Santillan 7, Dyke 6, Baltazar 4, Montalbo 4, Caracut 4, Bates 3, Serrano 3, Manuel 3, Go 0
QUARTERS: 12-13, 28-21, 50-33, 71-55