Ateneo thwarts UP, forces Game 3 decider
Ateneo sure came ready as the Blue Eagles spoiled the UP Fighting Maroons’ sweep bid with a 65-55 victory to force a winner-take-all for the UAAP men’s basketball crown.
Ange Kouame, Forthsky Padrigao, and Kai Ballungay helped Ateneo set the tone early in Game 2 as the Blue Eagles pulled away from the defending champions by as many as 15 points, 61-46, before holding off a late UP challenge in front of a crowd of over 20,000 at the Araneta Coliseum.
Kouame stuffed the stat sheet with 19 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 blocks.
Ateneo and UP fight for the title in the Game 3 decider on Monday, December 19, also at the Big Dome. Read the full story here.
Unique history beckons for the UP Fighting Maroons as they come one game away from winning back-to-back UAAP men’s basketball titles in the same year heading to the Season 85 finals Game 2 against the Ateneo Blue Eagles at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, December 14, 6 pm.
Momentum is slightly in the Maroons’ favor after a 72-66 Game 1 escape that saw Zavier Lucero and Harold Alarcon tune up the team’s defense and offense, respectively, with highlight reel-worthy stops and long-range shots.
UP’s depth will once again be on display in the first of its two chances to put the series on ice as head coach Goldwin Monteverde flexes the luxury of having presumptive season MVP Malick Diouf and Mythical Five mainstay Carl Tamayo come off the bench at such a crucial stage.
However, a different kind of history is also on the side of the Blue Eagles, as they have not lost back-to-back games since November 2017, when they dropped their last elimination round game against La Salle and their first Final Four game against FEU.
Look for Ateneo’s current core of Ange Kouame, Dave Ildefonso, and Kai Ballungay to all bounce back from forgettable Game 1 outings and possibly force a do-or-die Game 3 with their backs already against the wall.
Will UP avoid the complications of an extended finals series and finish a historic season with a postseason sweep, or will Ateneo refuse to roll over to its Katipunan neighbors to live another day? Tune in to this page for live updates.