MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Ateneo Blue Eagles rose to a league of their own.
Punctuating a dominant season, the Ateneo Blue Eagles completed a rare 16-0 season sweep to capture their third straight championship with an 86-79 tripping of the UST Growling Tigers in Game 2 of the Season 82 men’s basketball finals on Wednesday, November 20.
"I can probably talk all day about this team, but I won’t. The 16-0 season is really something that we dreamed about. We didn’t talk a lot about it because we never wanted to set that as a goal," said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.
"But I know that the players particularly dream about it and it is a dream season to go through unblemished, to be able to say to each one of those 16 days, no team was better than us. You have to guard against arrogance. You have to guard against overstating what is something that is pretty exceptional."
Thirdy Ravena cemented his claim as one of the greatest players to ever wear the Ateneo colors as he captured the Finals MVP for the third straight season after another sensational series performance where he averaged 24.5 points on a 55% shooting clip on top of 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.
“Our strength doesn’t lie on one person or one coach, it relies on one another, we want to play for one another,” said Ravena. “The system works not because we want to do it not for ourselves but for each other.”
"It’s not a result of luck, it’s a result of hard work," added Ateneo stalwart Isaac Go.
The victory, though, came not without a scare as the Tigers continued to roar in the 4th. UST got within one, 66-67, off a sweet hook by CJ Cansino near the start of the frame.
However, SJ Belangel and Ravena silenced that run with a quick 5-0 response with 6:11 left.
UST rookie Sherwin Concepcion still got the Tigers within 4 with a late triple, 71-75, but Ateneo shut the door on their comeback hopes with a crucial 8-0 run, capped by an Ange Kouame alley-oop in the last two minutes for an 83-71 gap.
Much like in the series opener, the Blue Eagles fought fire with fire as they ran the Tigers out with a 31-18 opening quarter off another balanced attack.
But the Tigers stayed composed and got within 5, 32-37, off two free throws by MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo late in the 2nd, mirroring the comeback in their previous outing.
But Ravena had other plans and got the Eagles back up 10 at the half, 42-32, after a late and-one bucket.
The Eagles took great care of their lead in the 3rd with fire-dousing triples, before Rhenz Abando kept firing from both ends as Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy got UST within two, 60-62, off an and-one at the 1:31 mark of the frame.
Ateneo 86 – Ravena 17, Belangel 14, Ma. Nieto 14, Kouame 7, Navarro 7, Go 6, Maagdenberg 6, Wong 5, Daves 4, Mi. Nieto 3, Mamuyac 2, Andrade 0.
UST 79 – Abando 16, Nonoy 14, Chabi Yo 11, Concepcion 8, Subido 8, Huang 7, Ando 6, Paraiso 5, Cansino 4, Bataller 0, Pangilinan 0.
Quarters: 31-18, 42-32, 67-62, 86-79.