The Ateneo Blue Eagles recovered from a slow start to hold off the FEU Tamaraws, 65-55, and preserve their clean record in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Blue Eagles, who already earned a twice-to-beat incentive in the Final Four, turned their trademark defense up a notch in the pivotal second half to stay unscathed with an 11-0 slate.
Angelo Kouame topped with a double-double of 10 points and 15 rebounds. Thirdy Ravena also churned out 10 points, including nine in the last two periods, to go with nine boards. Pat Maagdenberg added a career-high nine points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from the field.
"[FEU] did a great job in the first half. Even in the second half, they stuck with their game plan.," said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin. "We had to make adjustments ... The guys became who we believe we are in the second half. Defensively we really locked down, we rebounded the ball much better, and players went out in the second half with a purpose that we didn't have in the first half."
The Tamaraws relied on their hot perimeter shooting to build an 11-point cushion by halftime. They also got their fast-paced game going and forced the defending champions to commit multiple turnovers.
The second half, however, was an entirely different story. A layup from L-Jay Gonzales extended FEU's lead to 13 early in the third, but they were limited to just five points the rest of the way to cling on to a slim 47-46 edge heading into the fourth.
A quick 8-0 run, punctuated by free throws from Adrian Wong, swung the momentum to the Blue Eagles' side. After being scoreless for seven minutes, the Tamaraws finally converted a bucket courtesy of Patrick Tchuente with over six minutes left on the clock.
Amid the scoring barrage from Ateneo, Wendell Comboy knocked down two triples to keep his team within striking distance but the Blue Eagles responded with eight unanswered points in the closing minutes. Will Navarro and Ravena converted back-to-back baskets followed by a putback from Kouame before Gian Mamuyac punctuated the victory with a pair of free throws.
With the loss, FEU dropped to fifth place with a 5-6 card.
Gonzales took up the cudgels for the Tamaraws, finishing with 12 points and six rebounds, while Bienes and Comboy contributed eight apiece.
ATENEO 65 -- Kouame 10, Ravena 10, Maagdenberg 9, Navarro 8, Wong 8, Belangel 5, Daves 4, Ma. Nieto 4, Mamuyac 3, Go 2, Mi. Nieto 2, Andrade 0, Tio 0.
FEU 55 -- Gonzales 12, Bienes 8, Comboy 8, Tuffin 6, Cani 4, Ebona 4, Stockton 4, Tchuente 4, Torres 3, Alforque 2.
Quarters: 15-18, 29-40, 46-47, 65-55.
- Ateneo dominated in the second half: 36-15 in points (16-0 off turnovers, 16-4 in the paint) and 34-17 in rebounds.
- The Blue Eagles stretched their winning run to 21 games. The last time they lost was against the Tamaraws back in the first round of Season 81.
FEU - October 19 (Saturday) vs DLSU at Ynares Antipolo
Ateneo - October 20 (Sunday) vs UE at Ynares Antipolo