UAAP: Ateneo overpowers FEU, marches to Season 84 Finals

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 04 2022 07:53 PM | Updated as of May 05 2022 02:03 AM

 Ateneo center Ange Kouame celebrates after a play against the FEU Tamaraws in their UAAP Season 84 Final 4 game. UAAP Media.
Ateneo center Ange Kouame celebrates after a play against the FEU Tamaraws in their UAAP Season 84 Final 4 game. UAAP Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) For the fifth consecutive season, the Ateneo Blue Eagles are headed to the UAAP Finals.

The Blue Eagles used a huge second quarter to pull away from Far Eastern University en route to a comfortable 85-72 win in their UAAP Season 84 Final 4 game, Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

It will be the fifth straight Finals appearance for the Blue Eagles, who are seeking a fourth consecutive men's basketball championship. They made a quick recovery from last Sunday's defeat to the University of the Philippines, which ended a four-year, 39-game winning streak for the program.

BJ Andrade earned Player of the Game honors after setting the tone for Ateneo with 16 points in the first half, while SJ Belangel drained big three-pointers in the fourth quarter en route to 14 points. Team captain Gian Mamuyac, after being held scoreless against UP, scored 12 points. Big man Ange Kouame came through with an all-around game of nine points, 18 rebounds, eight assists, and five blocks.

"We put the loss to UP behind us, because FEU was the only game that mattered," Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin said. "[The players] handled it extremely well and they came out really focused today."

The game was tied at 16 after the opening frame, but the Blue Eagles soon imposed their will. They dealt well with the full court pressure unleashed by the Tamaraws, and Andrade, Mamuyac, and Dave Ildefonso found their mark from the perimeter. 

Ateneo wound up out-scoring FEU, 33-17, in the pivotal second period. They limited the Tams to just 15 shot attempts in the frame.

"The second quarter gave us the break that we were looking for. Lot of credit has to go to the ball-handlers we have on our team, handling the pressure and the big men who help release the pressure," said Baldwin.

The Ateneo lead reached 22 points, 63-41, after Josh Lazaro converted a layup off another Kouame assist with 2:26 to go in the third quarter. The Tamaraws got to within 13 points, 65-52, early in the fourth period but they were never able to truly threaten; Belangel drilled a couple of three-pointers in the frame that kept the Blue Eagles comfortably ahead.

RJ Abarrientos finished with 16 points, as his three-pointer in the closing seconds pegged the final score. Emmanuel Ojuola, in his last game for the Tamaraws, had 13 points and 14 rebounds, while graduating forward Brandrey Bienes also had 13 points.

But the Blue Eagles locked down FEU's other offensive weapons: LJay Gonzales went 4-of-11 from the field, and Xyrus Torres managed just five field goals with one make for three points. The Tams gave up 19 offensive rebounds, which the Blue Eagles translated to 22 second chance points.

Ateneo will move on to play the winner of the other Final 4 match-up against De La Salle University and the University of the Philippines.

The Scores:

ATENEO 85 -- Andrade 16, Belangel 14, Mamuyac 12, Ildefonso 11, Kouame 9, Daves 9, Lazaro 4, Verano 3, Koon 3, Chiu 2, Tio 2, Padrigao 0.

FEU 72 -- Abarrientos 16, Ojuola 13, Bienes 13, Gonzales 9, Sleat 6, Alforque 5, Tempra 4, Torres 3, Celzo 2, Sajonia 1, Coquia 0.

Quarters: 16-16, 49-33, 65-48, 85-72.