Back-to-back UAAP champion Ateneo Blue Eagles added the 2019 PCCL President's Cup title to their collection after they bested the CESAFI three-peat champions University of the Visayas Green Lancers, 95-71, Monday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The Blue Eagles simply outclassed their opponents from the south as they took an early lead and never looked back. The Green Lancers were hoping to be the first PCCL champion not to come from the NCAA or the UAAP but they quickly figured out that the Blue Eagles were simply too talented.
Isaac Go led Ateneo in scoring with 15 points on 4 of 5 shooting from the outside. Bj Andrade added 13 while fellow starters RV Berjay and SJ Belangel chipped in a combined 22 points. They led by as much as 33 points before settling for the 24-point win.
Ateneo had an easier path to the championship match as the UAAP and NCAA champions had a ticket straight to the Final Four where they defeated the San Beda Red Lions in 2-1.
First, the CESAFI champion bested the Visayas Qualifier Colegio de Sta. Ana De Victorias and Mindanao Qualifier Holy Trinity College in the Vis/Min Regional Championship. After that, they swept their best of three series against the Luzon/NCR Regional Champion Naga College Foundation.
The Blue Eagles anchored their offense on the long ball to start the game as Isaac Go opened the scoring with a four-point play followed by another triple with RV Berjay adding two more conversions from the outside for an early 13-5 advantage.
Ateneo held a comfortable 19-8 lead after the opening quarter.
Rey Suerte and Bassieru Sackor powered the offense for the Green Lancers as they played much better in the second period. However, Ateneo stayed ahead by double digits. Thirdy Ravena sank a triple while drawing an unsportsmanlike foul on Suerte. Ravena sank the bonus free throw to extend their lead to 16, 44-28.
Ateneo led by 18 points, 52-34, as the Green Lancers severely limited their chances of inching closer by committing too many turnovers. While the Blue Eagles shot a decent 45% from the field, UV gave away 27 points off their 18 first half turnovers.
The Blue Eagles wanted to break the game wide open at the start of the third period as they went on a 16-3 run to build an even 30-point lead, 67-37, to effectively put the game away.
Suerte led UV with 26 points on 9 of 11 shooting from the field while Sackor put up an impressive double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds while also getting the game biggest highlight with a slam dunk over Ravena in the third period.
The previous PCCL Finals meeting of these two teams happened back in 2007 with Ateneo coming out on top, 71-54. The most awaited matchup for that game was Rabeh Al Hussaini versus Greg Slaughter, who would later on play for Ateneo in the PCCL a couple of years after.
This time around, the Green Lancers did not have a dominant big to make it an interesting battle against Ateneo.
Ateneo (95): Go 15, Andrade 13, Berjay 12, Ravena 12, Belangel 10, Wong 9, Kouame 8, Mamuyac 7, Top 3, Mike Nieto 2, Matt Nieto 2, Credo 2
UV (71): Suerte 26, Sackor 16, Segumpan 14, Delator 5, Gahi 5, Maestre 2, Butohan 2, Cabahug 1, Claridad 0, Amistoso 0, Sagan 0.
Quarters: 19-8, 52-34, 75-45, 95-71
-- Suerte played his last game for UV, passing on on his final year of eligibility for a chance to play in the PBA D-League. He was drafted by Che-Lu Bar and Grill and he will see action this February.
-- Lassina Coulibaly, UV's other import, was not able to see action with an injured knee. The 21-year-old was a bigger part of the rotation compared to Sackor.
-- Matt and Mike Nieto alongside Tyler Tio came from classes at the Ateneo campus in Katipunan as the three arrived in the third quarter.
-- In the awarding ceremony, Ateneo's Tab Baldwin was named the Best Coach.
-- Ateneo's Go, Andrade, and Ravena and UV's Sackor and Suerte were named as the Mythical Five. Go was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.