UP bags UAAP crown, dethrones Ateneo
University of the Philippines pulled off what seemed improbable all season – taking down the Ateneo dynasty.
UP captured the UAAP men’s basketball championship as the Fighting Maroons stunned the Blue Eagles with a 72-69 overtime decision in the do-or-die Game 3 of the finals on Friday, May 13 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
JD Cagulangan knocked in the game-winning triple with a fraction of a second left as the Maroons ended their 36-year title drought while dethroning three-time champion Ateneo.
(READ: UP topples Ateneo dynasty, ends three-decade title odyssey)
(READ: Castaway to champion: JD Cagulangan caps career revival with title-winning shot)
The Ateneo Blue Eagles flexed championship composure with their season and four-peat UAAP title bid on the line as they survived another huge comeback by the UP Fighting Maroons to even the Season 84 finals at one game apiece.
Thanks to the 14-point, 14-rebound, 8-block line of newly minted MVP Ange Kouame, the Blue Eagles dynasty has earned much-needed momentum heading to Game 3 on Friday, May 13, after dropping back-to-back games against its Katipunan neighbor.
Now Zavier Lucero, Carl Tamayo, and graduating star Ricci Rivero will have their work cut out for them as they try to bounce back after being just four points away from winning UP its first title since 1986.
The Maroons now have to contend with a rejuvenated Ateneo cast featuring Kouame, Dave Ildefonso, SJ Belangel, and a handful of graduating cogs like Gian Mamuyac, Raffy Verano, and Tyler Tio who will not leave the UAAP without one big fight for the last time.
Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin – who admitted to having a fast-growing admiration for first-year UP shot-caller Goldwin Monteverde – likened this Ateneo-UP finals to their grueling title war with La Salle five years ago, and it has indeed been physical and emotionally exhausting to watch.
Will history finally be made for the men in maroon, or will the Ateneo empire continue to grow, ultimately unhampered by its latest challenger?
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