MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Ateneo Blue Eagles just proved too strong, too experienced – and basically just too much of everything – for the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons.
Proving why they’re league kings, the Blue Eagles rolled past the Fighting Maroons, 99-81, to capture their second straight UAAP men’s basketball championship on Wednesday, December 5, in front of a huge crowd of 23,471 at the Araneta Coliseum.
Thirdy Ravena, who flirted with a triple-double in Game 1, erupted for a career-high 38 points as the Blue Eagles completed a 2-0 sweep of the Season 81 best-of-three title series.
Named Finals MVP, Ravena shot a sensational 13-of-18 from the field and also collected 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals in the game-clincher. He averaged 29.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 2.5 steals, and 1.0 block in the series.
Newly crowned Rookie of the Year Angelo Kouame also starred with a huge double-double of 22 points an 20 boards to help the Blue Eagles keep a comfortable lead for the entire 2nd half.
“Coach Tab (Baldwin) said na bawal kami magka-let up during the game, we can't be casual. It was the last 40 minutes and binigay lang namin lahat as a team,” said Ravena.
“Well my mission was to give everything that I got. I didn't expect to score, it just came na pumapsok yung binibigay sa akin ng teammates ko.”
(Coach Tab Baldwin said there shoud be no let-up during the game, we can’t be casual. It was the last 40 minutes and the entire team just gave everything they had. Well my mission was to give everything that I got. I didn't expect to score, it just happened that a lot of the feeds from my teammates went in.)
Unforgiving all game, Ravena made it a 21-point lead, 79-58, as he faced up his man at the 7:28 mark of the 4th and buried a deep three.
Kouame also had several highlights, including crushing home his fourth slam of the night at the 2:20 mark of the 3rd quarter to bring Ateneo up 18, 68-50.
UP failed to make stops down the stretch of the quarter as they went down even as season MVP Bright Akhuetie and Juan Gomez de Liaño tried to pump in life to the Maroons’ campaign.
The Eagles got out to an early 13-point lead, 28-13, at the 8:55 mark of the 2nd quarter off a Raffy Verano and-one. However, the UP star guard tandem of Gomez De Liaño and Paul Desiderio responded with a 9-0 run to inch within 6, 22-28, less than 2 minutes later.
Still, the defending champs regrouped and got back to double-digits near the end of the frame after a timely Kouame screen and a Ravena long bomb, 44-34.
At the half, the Eagles led by 11, 48-37, with Ravena already having 17 points and Kouame having a 10-point, 14-rebound double-double.
The game’s tip-off got pushed back after Ateneo coaches contested Akhuetie’s steel brace on his recovering left knee.
After a lengthy conversation with officials and team doctors, the game finally started after the Season 81 MVP had his brace taken off.
Gomez De Liaño paced UP's last stand with 24 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Akhuetie added 19 points and 8 rebounds while Paul Desiderio chipped in 15 markers and 7 boards in his farewell game.
Ateneo 99 – Ravena 38, Kouame 22, Verano 11, Tio 7, Nieto Ma. 6, Asistio 6, Belangel 6, Go 3, Nieto Mi. 0, Mamuyac 0, Mendoza 0, Andrade 0, Black 0, Wong 0, Daves 0, Navarro 0.
UP 81 – Gomez de Liaño Ju. 24, Akhuetie 19, Desiderio 15, Gomez de Liaño Ja. 11, Dario 8, Lim 2, Vito 2, Manzo 0, Jaboneta 0, Murrell 0, Spencer 0, Prado 0, Española 0, Longa 0.
Quarters: 25-13, 48-37, 70-56, 99-81.