Ateneo Blue Eagles def. UST Growling Tigers, 85-53
Angelo Kouame, ADMU (20 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks)
In the preseason, Coach Tab expressed his desire to make Ange a center with guard skills. We had a glimpse of that against the UST Growling Tigers. Kouame showed his dominance in the paint, as well as starting his attack behind the three-point line. The latter fetched a gorgeous looking slam off a fake handoff. His rim protection and motor all throughout the game was topnotch, but he can dial his motor a bit down as he can be hot-headed and loses focus (more on this later). All things considered, this guy is legit.
Thirdy Ravena, ADMU (11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks)
Thirdy is the most consistent player of Tab Baldwin and the Blue Eagles. After a spotty first game for the Finals MVP, he has improved his play by playing to his strengths and staying within the system. Because he is seen by many as Ateneo’s best offensive weapon, he attracts double-teams. His court vision allows him to pass the ball to the open man for the shot.
CJ Cansino, UST (15 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists)
Aldin Ayo hit the jackpot when he secured the commitment of the former Juniors MVP from the UST Tiger Cubs. His basketball IQ is that of a veteran already. He is UST’s leading scorer, getting his points off slashing and using the screens his teammates set up. If he develops a reliable three-point shot as his collegiate career progresses, he may be able to annex his Juniors MVP with a senior’s one.
- Slowly but surely, the Blue Eagles are hitting their stride. While the identity of the Blue Eagles lies within their defense, their offensive development is slowly catching up. The offensive sets of Ateneo look more fluid as they play more games, and they feel more comfortable in running their plays. The Blue Eagles’ spacing was good, allowing them to open the paint for easy layups. This system better resembles the Ateneo that played in the preseason, as opposed to the one that lost to Adamson in their first game.
- As good a player Ange Kouame is, he is still young. There were some stretches that you would see him visibly frustrated when the calls do not go his way. When this happens, his performance dips noticeably, and worse, he gets warned by the officials for unsportsmanlike behavior. This prompts Tab Baldwin to pull him out of the game until he calms down. Not every Ateneo game will be a blowout, and if the young Blue Eagle center continues to act this way, it might cost them a game in the future.
- CJ Cansino is certainly an elite player. Against one of the better defensive teams in the league, Cansino still managed to get his points. Had UST’s shots been falling, this game would be so much closer. He should be the cornerstone of this team moving forward.
- As cliché as this sounds, the piling losses of UST can only make them stronger. The Growling Tigers are not a bad team. Their win against the FEU Tamaraws show their potential. Keep in mind however that these are still kids finding their bearings in the UAAP. Coach Aldin Ayo is a proven bench tactician and motivator, and they just need to listen to him in order for them to grow.