MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) For the sixth consecutive season, the Ateneo Blue Eagles are headed to the UAAP Finals.
Ateneo ended Adamson University's run in emphatic fashion, pulling away for an 81-60 victory in their UAAP Season 85 Final 4 game on Wednesday evening at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles thus set up a Finals rematch against the University of the Philippines, who earlier ousted National University in their own semifinal affair. The Fighting Maroons memorably defeated Ateneo in the UAAP Season 84 Finals last May.
For Ateneo, this is their sixth straight Finals appearance since 2016; it is the third time in the last four Finals that they will play UP for the championship.
"We had our best offensive performance of the year," said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin, whose team shot 49.1% from the field including a stunning 57.1% from long distance. "In the cauldron of a semifinal … you need time to prepare, you need rest, and you need a full team hitting on all cylinders."
"Tonight, I think we were that team," he added.
The Blue Eagles got it done through a patented third quarter outburst after Adamson got within eight points, 44-36, through a Jerom Lastimosa layup with 7:27 to play in the period.
It would be all Ateneo for the rest of the way. The Blue Eagles unleashed 22 unanswered points to completely break the game open, as they found their rhythm from long range. A Dave Ildefonso triple -- his first field goal of the contest -- triggered the run, and Chris Koon added two three-pointers of his own for Ateneo.
A Sean Quitevis triple at the 9:15 mark of the fourth put the finishing touches on the Ateneo flurry, and gave them their biggest lead of the game at 30 points, 66-36.
After scoring just seven points in the third period, Adamson came alive with 24 points in the final quarter but it came too late to save their season. They got as close as 21 points, 74-53, with 2:41 via a Lastimosa and-1 but it was immediately answered by another three-pointer from the Blue Eagles.
Chris Koon earned Player of the Game honors after scoring 15 points on top of five assists and three rebounds, while also leading the defensive effort against Lastimosa. Kai Ballungay had 13 points, and Ildefonso shook off a poor shooting night for 11 points and nine rebounds. Ange Kouame grabbed 10 rebounds to go with his nine points.
Lastimosa had 10 points, but made just four of 15 field goals and committed three turnovers. He was the only Adamson player in double-digits; Didat Hanapi had nine points and Cedrick Manzano had 12 rebounds with his eight points.
The loss marked the end of a stirring run for the Soaring Falcons, who put together a late winning streak to stay in the hunt for a Final 4 spot, then ousted La Salle in a thriller to claim the last semifinals berth just last Sunday.
"It's a really difficult job to play the game they played against La Salle the other night, and to turn around and try and play a team that's been preparing for a week and well-rested," said Baldwin, who paid tribute to Adamson and their head coach, Nash Racela, after the game.
The Blue Eagles will now shift their attention to Game 1 of the Finals against UP, set for Sunday, December 11 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
ATENEO 81 -- Padrigao 16, Koon 15, Ballungay 13, Ildefonso 11, Kouame 9, Andrade 5, Gomez 3, Quitevis 3, Garcia 3, Daves 2, Lao 1, Lazaro 0, Chiu 0, Fetalvero 0, Fornilos 0, Ong 0.
ADAMSON 60 -- Lastimosa 10, Hanapi 9, Manzano 8, Yerro 7, Douanga 6, Flowers 6, Torres 5, Sabandal 3, V. Magbuhos 3, Colonia 2, Manlapaz 1, Fuentebella 0, Jaymalin 0, Barasi 0, W. Magbuhos 0, Barcelona 0.
Quarters: 20-13, 39-29, 63-36, 81-60.
UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.