The defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles pulled off another win, this time with a resounding 71-50 swamping of the National University Bulldogs yesterday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Keeping an eye on Dave Ildefonso all throughout, the Blue Eagles quickly decided the outcome of the match right in the first half as they went on to post their fifth consecutive victory in the 82nd University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament.
The Blue Eagles thrived on the big games of Angelo Kouame inside the paint in posting their 15th straight win since the first round last year.
Ateneo, which started its winning streak with an 81-66 demolition of the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in the second round of season 81, held the Bulldogs to just 11 points in the first period.
This kept the Blue Eagles in the solo lead, and ahead of the Fighting Maroons (4-1).
After the Blue Eagles went on to take a 20-11 edge at the end of the first period, three main players put the team further ahead.
SJ Belangel, skipper Mike Nieto and Kouame struck in succession, and handed the Blue Eagles a 27-13 spread with 6:32 left.
Kouame shot a game-high 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Blue Eagles, including six points in the second period to help his squad take a 41-24 halftime spread.
The Bulldogs, who went down to their fifth straight setback, got only 10 points from Ildefonso, while his brother Shaun could only produce nine.
And they were able to cut down Ateneo’s lead to 14, 27-41, in the remaining 8:10 of the third off RJ Minerva’s attack.
Ateneo experienced its biggest edge in the final canto, when they took a 25-point lead, 65-40, off Adrian Wong’s jumper with 3:56 left.
“Our defense is doing a good job. It’s generating turnovers and converting those into easy points on the fastbreak,” said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.
Earlier, the Fighting Maroons got away with their third straight win with 62-56, beating of the University of the East Warriors last Saturday.
Bright Akhuetie made 16 points for the Maroons, who got a big play from Kobe Paras when he assisted JD Tungcab for a trey with 1:09 left, and handed UP a 61-56 spread.
The La Salle Green Archers, behind Andrei Caracut, turned back the Adamson Falcons, 68-61. Caracut’s two triples in the last 28.3 seconds gave La Salle a 66-61 cushion. Justine Baltazar made 15 points while Caracut added 15.
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