MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Blue Eagles grinded out a hard-earned 74-64 win over the NU Bulldogs to stay undefeated in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament on Tuesday, April 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ange Kouame delivered the goods anew for the Blue Eagles, finishing with a near triple-double of 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 blocks.
Dave Ildefonso, meanwhile, scored a team-high 14 points on an efficient 5-of-9 shooting for Ateneo in his first time playing against his former school NU.
With the win, the Blue Eagles stayed at the top of the standings with a perfect 5-0 record, while the Bulldogs dropped to 2-3 – tied with the FEU Tamaraws and the UST Growling Tigers at the middle of the pack.
“I’m delighted we got the win because NU made us fight for every inch of that win and in some ways, I’m sure that’s very good for us,” said Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin.
“But my hat goes off to NU and coach Jeff (Napa). They did a heck of job preparing for this game and they did a heck of job playing in this game,” he added.
Coming off a 17-point win against rival La Salle Green Archers, the Blue Eagles threatened to pull away early as they built an 11-point lead, 25-14, off a triple by Tyler Tio early in the second period.
The Bulldogs, however, managed to stay within striking distance and trailed the Blue Eagles by just 8, 41-33, at halftime.
In the second half, the Bulldogs kept up their feisty showing against the Blue Eagles, inching closer to within just 1, 60-59, off a fastbreak layup by Janjan Felicilda early in the fourth frame.
Unfortunately for NU, with Ateneo only on top by 3, 67-64, with 2:20 left to play, the Blue Eagles suddenly unleashed a 7-0 run to put the Bulldogs away for good.
SJ Belangel also came up with an all-around outing of 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Tio and Jolo Mendoza added 8 and 7 points, respectively, off the bench for Ateneo.
On the other side, Reyland Torres led the way for NU with 14 points, while John Lloyd Clemente and Felicilda contributed 12 and 10 markers, respectively.
The Blue Eagles will look to make it six in a row this season when they face the winless UE Red Warriors on Thursday, April 7, at 4 pm. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs hope to rediscover their winning ways when they go up against the Growling Tigers on the same day at 1 pm.
Ateneo 74 – Ildefonso 14, Kouame 12, Belangel 11, Tio 8, Mendoza 7, Verano 6, Mamuyac 6, Chiu 5, Koon 4, Andrade 1, Lazaro 0, Padrigao 0.
NU 64 – Torres 14, Clemente 12, Felicilda 10, Malonzo 6, Ildefonso 5, Yu 5, Manansala 4, Figueroa 2, Joson 2, Enriquez 2, Galinato 2, Minerva 0, Tibayan 0, Gaye 0, Mahinay 0.
Quarters: 20-14, 41-33, 58-50, 74-64.