MANILA, Philippines – Following an 81 to 60 victory over Adamson on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, ATENEO advanced to the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball championship game.
The number one seeded Blue Eagles once more relied on their signature third-quarter surges, scoring 19 consecutive points to increase a 44 to 36 lead into a 63-36 lead going into the playoff period.
With Anton Quitevis’ three-pointer early in the fourth canto, the run continued to grow to a 22 to 0 attack, which eliminated any chance of a tie by making the margin 30 points, or 66 to 36.
Following National University’s 69 to 61 demolition of Ateneo, which is making its sixth consecutive appearance in the Finals, Ateneo has scheduled a rematch with the reigning champion University of the Philippines.
The Blue Eagles and the Fighting Maroons will face off in the championship series for the third time in the past four seasons.
Kai Ballungay scored 13 points and grabbed four rebounds while Chris Koon made an impressive 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Both players combined for five rebounds, five assists, and 15 points.
Ateneo had an erratic 57 percent field goal shooting percentage, hitting 16 of 28 attempts.
Coach Tab Baldwin declared, “We had our finest offensive performance of the year,” rejoicing in the victory and toasting Adamson’s outstanding effort.
Tonight, I think we were that team, and [the Falcons] were simply a bunch of warriors out there, and I really applaud them for the fight they put up. “In the cauldron of a semifinal, you need more than that. You need time to prepare, you need rest, and you need a full team banging on all cylinders.
Dave Ildefonso had 11 points, nine rebounds, and four assists, falling one board short of a double-double, while Ange Kouame had the same stat line with 9 points, 10 boards, 2 blocks, and an assist.
Forthsky Padrigao led the Blue Eagles in scoring with 16 points, adding five assists, three rebounds, and two steals. The Blue Eagles did not require the twice-to-beat advantage they had received as the top seeds.
Jerom Lastimosa was limited to 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting, bringing to a tragic end the remarkable run of No. 4 Adamson just days after he had led the Falcons to a game-deciding victory over La Salle to secure the final semi final position.
In addition to grabbing five boards, three assists, and two steals, he made just one of his seven long-range shots and missed it all.
Cedrick Manzano, who scored eight points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Didat Hanapi, who scored 12 points apiece, were two of the few players to contribute to the losing effort in this semifinal game for Lastimosa.
According to the eye test, Adamson did it’s hardest to even slightly chip away at Ateneo’s enormous advantage, but nothing else worked as time ran out, and the Eagles easily strolled to their third consecutive finals appearance against the UP Fighting Maroons.
“May I start with this, I’d like to pay respects to Adamson and coach Nash Racela. Playing a squad that has been practicing for a week and is well-rested after the game they played against La Salle the other night is really challenging. According to Tab Baldwin, head coach of Ateneo, “I think the game really was a manifestation of that.”
Scores at the end of the match
Ateneo with 81 points
Individual scores: Padrigao 16, Koon 15, Ballungay 13, Ildefonso 11, Kouame 9, Andrade 5, Gomez 3, Quitevis 3, Garcia 3, Daves 2, Lao 1, Lazaro 0, Chiu 0, Fetalvero 0, Fornilos 0, Ong 0.
Adamson with 60 points
Individual scores: Lastimosa 10, Hanapi 9, Manzano 8, Yerro 7, Douanga 6, Flowers 6, Torres 5, Sabandal 3, V. Magbuhos 3, Colonia 2, Manlapaz 1, Fuentebella 0, Jaymalin 0, Barasi 0, W. Magbuhos 0, Barcelona 0.
Scores per quarter
20 to 13, 39 to 29, 63 to 36, 81 to 60