(UPDATED) The Ateneo De Manila University began its UAAP title retention campaign with a 90-81 victory over the University of the Philippines at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.
The Blue Eagles built a considerable lead with a strong showing in the first half and relied on returning Dave Ildefonso and SJ Belangel to fend of the Fighting Maroons' comeback.
Ildefonso, who played for National University before returning to Ateneo, led the Blue Eagles with 19 points of 7-of-14 field goal shooting to go with 6 rebounds and a steal.
Belangel, who finished with 10 points, also scored on the clutch to keep UP at bay in the final minutes of the game.
Ange Kouame, meanwhile, delivered a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
The Fighting Maroons, led by CJ Cansino, trailed by 20 points but pulled to within 9 in the payoff period.
But Belangel triggered a trey that kept the Blue Eagles ahead on their way to their first victory.