MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATED) Ateneo de Manila University remains undefeated in UAAP Season 82, after outlasting University of Santo Tomas (UST), 71-70, in a thrilling contest on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ange Kouame came up with huge plays on both ends of the floor, converting the go-ahead tip-in with three minutes left and blocking UST’s Soulemane Chabi Yo with 24 seconds to go to help preserve the lead for the Blue Eagles.
Thirdy Ravena bucked early foul trouble to finish with 17 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals, while Kouame had 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Gian Mamuyac had 10 points, and kept Ateneo afloat in the first half with his perimeter shooting.
The Blue Eagles improved to 3-0 in the tournament, while handing the Growling Tigers their first loss after back-to-back wins to open the season.
“I feel very fortunate that we won this game,” said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin after the game. “The game could have gone either way. We were very fortunate.”
The Blue Eagles pulled away early, leading 23-13 after the opening frame. But UST uncorked a 16-0 run in the second period anchored by Chabi Yo, and took a 37-33 lead at the half.
UST preserved that advantage, 56-53, heading into the final quarter as the Blue Eagles worked their way back in the game with help from Patrick Maagdenberg, who held down the fort while Kouame sat with foul trouble.
UST appeared to pull away at the start of the opening frame, thanks to a massive alley-oop from Rhenz Abando, and a jumper by Brent Paraiso that pushed them ahead by 7, 60-53.
But the Blue Eagles tightened up on defense, forcing turnovers from UST that allowed them to get out in transition. Kouame made the most of these opportunities, scoring on a dunk and then a lay-up to give Ateneo a 64-62 lead.
Two charities by Sherwin Concepcion and a triple by Renzo Subido made it 67-64 for UST, but Ravena soared to the hoop, before Kouame nailed a tip-in that gave Ateneo the lead for good, 68-67, with three minutes left.
It was a defensive grind for both teams in the next minutes, with both the Tigers and the Blue Eagles missing good looks. Chabi Yo tried to give his team the lead inside the final minute, but was resoundly blocked by Kouame with 24 seconds to go. That forced UST to give up a foul, and CJ Cansino was called for an unsportsmanlike that gave the Blue Eagles two free throws plus ball possession.
Mamuyac left the door open for UST, however, as he missed both charities, but Ravena made sure to make his shots in the ensuing possession for a 3-point lead, 70-67. Mamuyac made up for his free throw blunder by bothering Cansino’s triple attempt on the other end, and Matt Nieto split his charities to pad Ateneo’s advantage.
Subido nailed a triple at the buzzer but it did not affect the result as UST absorbed its first loss of the season.
“If anything turned the tide of the game in the second half, we fixed some of our rebounding problems,” said Baldwin, whose squad gave up 9 offensive rebounds in the first half, and only 3 more the rest of the way.
Chabi Yo finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocks, but no other UST player scored in double-digits.
The Blue Eagles shot 37.33% from the field, while UST made 39.39% of its shots. Ateneo scored 23 points off UST’s 19 turnovers in the game.
ATENEO 71 — Ravena 17, Kouame 11, Mamuyac 10, Navarro 8, Belangel 6, Maagdenberg 6, Ma. Nieto 5, Go 3, Wong 3, Mi. Nieto 2, Andrade 0, Daves 0, Tio 0.
UST 70 — Chabi Yo 25, Abando 9, Nonoy 9, Subido 9, Huang 6, Cansino 4, Concepcion 4, Ando 2, Paraiso 2, Bataller 0.
Quarter scores: 23-13, 33-37, 53-56, 71-70
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