MANILA, Philippines – With a full 14-man lineup this time, the UAAP champions Ateneo Blue Eagles survived the NCAA kings San Beda Red Lions, 62-56, to clinch the last title berth in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) at the Ynares Sports Arena on Saturday, January 26.
Angelo Kouame led Ateneo with a near-triple-double of 13 points, 18 rebounds and a staggering 8 blocks in the do-or-die Game 3 of the semifinals.
Two-time UAAP Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena also had a game-high 14 markers plus 6 boards and 2 assists for the Blue Eagles, who rose from a 0-1 deficit in the best-of-three series.
As the best collegiate team in Metro Manila, the Blue Eagles have set a knockout finals date with CESAFI rulers UV Green Lancers on Monday. However, they face their old roster predicament with classes resuming in Ateneo once again.
From an 11-point hole to start the 4th, San Beda used an 11-2 opening run on the back of diminutive guard Prince Etrata to make it a one-possesion game, 53-55, with under 4 minutes to go.
Donald Tankoua, the 2017 NCAA Finals MVP, then tied it up, 55-all, before Kouame sank Ateneo's first fourth-quarter field goal, and-one, with 2:15 left in regulation.
Not to be outdone, Ravena called for an isolation in the clutch and drained a well-defended dagger three, 61-56, with 22 ticks left.
Sophomore stud Evan Nelle went for a quick three for San Beda off the inbound, but it clanked off, letting Ateneo waste time and escape with the victory.
James Canlas also had 14 points while Tankoua added a 10-point, 12-board double-double in the tough loss.
Ateneo 62 – Ravena 14, Kouame 13, Wong 10, Andrade 8, Ma. Nieto 5, Berjay 3, Mamuyac 3, Navarro 2, Go 2, Mi. Nieto 1, Tio 1, Belangel 0.
San Beda 56 – Canlas 14, Tankoua 10, Nelle 9, Doliguez 7, Soberano 5, Etrata 4, Cuntapay 3, Oftana 2, Alfaro 2, Abuda 0, Bahio 0, Carino 0, Visser 0, Obenza 0.
Quarters: 10-7, 34-24, 53-42, 62-56.