MANILA, Philippines— (UPDATED) For the second straight year, the Ateneo Blue Eagles are kings of the UAAP.
The Blue Eagles defeated University of the Philippines 99-81 in Game 2 of the Season 81 finals on Wednesday in front of a mammoth crowd at Araneta Coliseum to claim back-to-back collegiate championships.
It was also Ateneo's 10th UAAP championship overall in men's basketball.
The Blue Eagles completed an impressive title defense that saw them go 12-2 in the elimination round, overpower Far Eastern University in the final 4, then sweep the Fighting Maroons in the "Battle of Katipunan" in the best-of-3 finals.
The defending champions beat UP 88-79 in Game 1 on Saturday to move on the brink of the repeat.
The Blue Eagles initially broke the game open late in the first quarter, thanks to rookie point guard SJ Belangel. The reserve playmaker anchored a 7-0 burst to end the quarter for Ateneo, as he scored back-to-back lay-ups before assisting Isaac Go on a three-pointer to give the defending champions a 25-13 lead heading into the second quarter.
UP's offense got on track in the second, thanks to Paul Desiderio and Juan Gomez de Liano. A triple by Gomez de Liano, plus a lay-up by Bright Akhuetie, made it 41-34 with still two minutes to play in the half.
Once again, however, it was Ateneo that ended the half on a strong note. Thirdy Ravena sparked a 7-3 exchange in the final minute, giving the Blue Eagles a 48-37 advantage at the break.
Ateneo showed no let-up in the second half, pouring it on against a sluggish UP defense. The Fighting Maroons had no answer for Ravena, who nailed three three-pointers in the fourth quarter alone to anchor the Blue Eagles' dominance.
Ravena finished with a career-best 38 points, highlighting his production with a slam dunk at the 1:02 mark of the fourth quarter. Ravena's output was the highest in the finals in the past 15 years.
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