Ateneo routs San Beda in Filoil battle of champions

MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo's winning ways continued as the Blue Eagles blasted the San Beda Red Lions, 76-62, to complete a tournament sweep and claim the 12th Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup championship on Saturday, June 30, in San Juan.

Angelo Kouame took charge for the reigning UAAP champions, who pulled away early against a San Beda side that didn't play team star Robert Bolick in the second half. 

Kouame bagged the Most Valuable Player plum after an impressive game-high 15-point, 16-rebound, 3-block curtain call in the finals.

The Cote d’Ivorian giant also led the Mythical 5 that included Ateneo teammates Thirdy Ravena, Matt Nieto, San Beda's Javee Mocon and La Salle's Justine Baltazar. 

University of Perpetual Help's main anchor Prince Eze won the Best Defensive Player honor. 

Knowing his boys were playing 3 games in 3 days straight from Greece, Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin sent them a text message before their knockout match against the Red Lions: "The mind will tell the body what it should do."

"It's on the mind," assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga echoed in the post-game presser. "You don't have to mind the jet lag, the fatigue. That was very valuable input for our players."

The Blue Eagles made their presence felt early in the second quarter after a back-and-forth first frame as they held the NCAA titleholders to a 24-9 period for a 19-point lead at the half, 45-26.

Kouame showed deft touch around San Beda’s Donald Tankoua while Mike Nieto and Jolo Mendoza each sniped 3-pointers from the top of the key to pile on the lead.

Ravena later emphatically swatted Bedan rookie Evan Nelle’s halftime buzzer-beater layup for good measure.

The Red Lions pulled within 11 points, 59-70, at the two-minute mark of the 4th off a fastbreak Nelle layup, but never really threatened the sky-high Eagles.

Veteran forward Raffy Verano shut the Lions' den for good with an open triple off the timeout, 73-59, and helped clinch the 12-0 tournament sweep.

The Scores:

ATENEO (76) – Kouame 15, Mendoza 9, Verano 9, Ravena 7, Belangel 7, Nieto Mi 6, Asistio 6, Go 6, Mamuyac 5, Navarro 3, Maagdenberg 3, Nieto Ma 0, Tio 0, Wong 0, Black 0, Andrade 0.

SAN BEDA (62) – Mocon 14, Tankoua 13, Abuda 9, Canlas 7, Doliguez 6, Nelle 5, Cabanag 4, Oftana 2, Carino 2, Tongco 0, Bolick 0, Eugene 0, Cuntapay 0, Burri 0.

Quarer scores: 19-15, 45-26, 56-42, 76-62.

– Rappler.com