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Blue Eagles use strong second half to take care of Maroons in finals rematch

The Ateneo Blue Eagles displayed their championship form to come away with a dominant 89-63 rout of the UP Fighting Maroons and stay undefeated in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Blue Eagles ended the first round on the top of the leaderboard with an immaculate 7-0 record. The Fighting Maroons, on the other hand, remain in second place after failing to extend their four-game streak and dropping to a 5-2 slate.

Five Ateneo players finished in double-digits. Angelo Kouame led the way with 19 points, 15 rebounds, and seven blocks. Matt Nieto delivered 18 points and five rebounds, while William Navarro scored 10 in the fourth quarter to finish with 14 points.

"There was a lot of ebbs and flows in the game. There was a lot of emotions in the game and we tried to keep the emotion out of it, for the most part, but it isn't always easy to do," said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin. "So I really have to credit the teams, the boys -- their composure in the game was good. UP came out like gangbusters and we figured they would. They really threw a lot at us. Their hustle, their fight, their determination was really admirable."

The Blue Eagles exploded for 54 points in the second half, outscoring their opponents' 32, to take the game out of reach.

UP coach Bo Perasol got thrown out at the 6:23 mark of the third quarter -- when the Fighting Maroons were trailing by 12 -- after aggressively confronting one of the referees about a non-call.

The lead ballooned to 15 points heading into the final frame. Navarro spearheaded the charge in the last 10 minutes, sparking the closing effort that pushed Ateneo on top by 27 towards the endgame.

Thirdy Ravena and SJ Belangel combined for 24 points and six assists to help secure the win. The Blue Eagles zoomed to a 12-7 lead in the opening minutes, highlighted by eight straight points from Matt Nieto. Ricci Rivero and the Gomez de Liaño brothers conspired for an 8-0 rally that put the Fighting Maroons ahead, 21-15, at the end of the first quarter.

Ateneo limited UP to just 10 points in the second quarter to regain control and carry a 35-31 edge before the halftime break. The Blue Eagles continued wreaking havoc in the last two periods to keep their streak going.

Kobe Paras topped for the Fighting Maroons with 14 points, followed by Javi Gomez de Liaño's 14-point outing.

THE SCORES

ATENEO 89 -- Kouame 19, Ma. Nieto 18, Navarro 14, Ravena 13, Belangel 11, Tio 5, Wong 4, Go 3, Mamuyac 2, Andrade 0, Chiu 0, Credo 0, Daves 0, Maagdenberg 0, Mi. Nieto 0.

UP 63 -- Paras 15, Ja. Gomez de Liano 14, Manzo 12, Ju. Gomez de Liano 8, Akhuetie 6, Rivero 6, Webb 2, Gob 0, Jaboneta 0, Mantilla 0, Murrell 0, Prado 0, Spencer 0, Tungcab 0.

Quarters: 15-21, 35-31, 61-46, 89-63.

EXTRA DRIBBLES

- Ateneo shot a season-high 48 percent (36/75) from the field. The defending champions posted a 49-32 advantage in rebounding, with Angelo Kouame accounting for 15 boards.

- The last time that the Fighting Maroons won over the Blue Eagles was during Bo Perasol's rookie year as head coach of UP (second round of Season 79), which came right after his 3-year stint with Ateneo.

NEXT GAMES

Ateneo - October 5 (Saturday) vs UST at the Mall of Asia Arena

UP - October 6 (Sunday) vs FEU at the Mall of Asia Arena