MANILA—Defending UAAP men's basketball champion Ateneo de Manila University began its 3-peat bid on a high note after beating projected contender Adamson University, 70-52, at Araneta Coliseum Wednesday.
Angelo Kouame led Ateneo with 17 points and 5 blocks, highlighted by several dunks to go along with 11 rebounds. Matt Nieto added 11 points while Thirdy Ravena had 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Ahead 16-6 after the first quarter, Adamson made it a 5-point game thanks to a bucket by Lenda Douanga.
But Mike Nieto scored a 3-pointer to counter for 19-11 advantage, and Ateneo never looked back as Kouame scored off a putback slam and a hook shot to push their lead to 25-16.
The Blue Eagles widened the gap to 38-23 with 6:19 left in the third after baskets from Kouame and Matt Nieto.
Isaac Go and SJ Belangel then teamed up for 10-0 run featuring 2 3-pointers for a 22-point lead, 48-26.
“We knew it was going to be tough. They are last team we really want to see in a first game. We were a little bit in a hurry in our offense,” head coach Tab Baldwin said.
Adamson rallied as Val Chauca caught fire in the second half, leading the Falcons' 13-0 run bridging the last two quarters.
He capped that rally with back-to-back triples to make it 48-39.
Chauca and Simon Camacho cut the deficit further to 50-45, but Ravena rattled in a step-back jumper to give Ateneo a little breather, 54-45.
Jerrick Ahanmisi put the Falcons closer with a trey and a lay-up as they inched closer 57-52, but Kouame finished off a two-handed slam off an overhead assist from Gian Mamuyac which padded the Blue Eagles' lead back to, 61-52, with a little over three minutes to go.
Ateneo ended the game with a 13-0 run to put away Adamson.
Chauca scored 17 points for Adamson, as Ahanmisi and Lenda Douanga were limited to seven apiece.
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