MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Blue Eagles started their UAAP Season 85 redemption campaign with a 79-70 win over longtime Final Four opponent FEU Tamaraws at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, October 2.
Forthsky Padrigao’s breakout performance led the balanced team scoring attack with 19 points of 7-of-15 shooting, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals, while veteran sniper BJ Andrade scored 15.
Dave Ildefonso churned out a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double as ailing MVP Ange Kouame also stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 14 boards, and 3 blocks.
Coming off a lackluster second period where FEU piled on a 20-6 quarter-long attack, Ateneo got its bearings back in the third – as it is always known to do – and used a 7-0 start to eventually mount a 53-44 lead off a Kouame layup with 2:46 left in the frame.
The Eagles eventually buried the Tamaraws in the fourth after Andrade fired off six straight points capped by three free throws for the 14-point lead, 69-55, with 6:07 left in regulation.
Although Patrick Sleat singlehandedly carried the FEU offense in its last-gasp 15-6 run to get within 5, 70-75, it was just a tad too late as Padrigao capped off his breakout night with a dagger three for the 78-70 gap with just 38.5 ticks left.
“Scrappy [game], for sure. Nothing new. I think that’s the standard line for most coaches,” said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin. “We got the typical FEU fight, they beat us to the ball, a lot of loose balls, a lot of rebounds, they outhustled us.”
“In the fourth quarter, we found some energy reserves, we started getting those balls, and started getting the rebounds. We had big players make big shots, which is not really the formula that is sort of the one I like. Nonetheless, it’s excellent to have players who have the toughness to take those shots.”
LJay Gonzales tied Padrigao in the loss with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting and 5-of-7 from deep to go with 4 steals, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists, while Sleat scored 17 in just 18 minutes off the bench.
Ateneo faces scrappy NU next on Wednesday, October 5, in the 6:30 pm main event, while FEU raises the quadruple-header curtain with UE that same day at 11 am.
Ateneo 79 – Padrigao 19, Andrade 15, Ildefonso 14, Kouame 12, Koon 11, Ballungay 3, Daves 2, Chiu 2, Lazaro 1, Gomez 0, Garcia 0, Quitevis 0.
FEU 70 – Gonzales 19, Sleat 17, Sajonia 10, Anonuevo 9, Torres 5, Tchuente 3, Alforque 3, Tempra 2, Sandagon 2, Gravera 0, Celzo 0, Guibao 0, Bagunu 0.
Quarters: 24-16, 30-36, 55-50, 79-70.