Ateneo Blue Eagles def. UE Red Warriors 84-50
Isaac Go (13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block)
He’s looking more and more like the Isaac Go of old. He top-scored for Ateneo while hitting three of his six attempts from deep, something he has been struggling a lot with this season. His play was solid enough that they were able to push through Ange Kouame’s early foul trouble.
SJ Belangel (9 points, 2 assists)
Belangel continues to show how much of an impact he can have on the court even in limited minutes, usually by setting up the offense or slashing to the rim. In this game, he was a sniper as UE left him wide open from beyond the arc. He made them pay by making three of his six attempts and burying the Red Warriors for good in the third quarter.
Matthew Daves (8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block)
With Kouame in foul trouble and Will Navarro basically taken out by Nick Abanto three minutes into the game, that freed up some playing time for Ateneo’s other bigs. Daves answered the call this time. He missed his only attempt on the floor but he did grab eight boards in just 18 minutes. There were a couple of possessions where he just dominated the offensive glass, getting four of them. Tab also experimented a bit playing him at the 5 against Diakhite and he held his own. He might not be the tallest guy but the hops and hustle make up for it.
Alex Diakhite (15 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal)
As always, Diakhite stuffed the statsheet and tried to do everything for UE. That was both good and bad. He was a force on the glass getting 10 of his teammates misses, got Kouame into foul trouble, scored a couple of nice buckets in the paint and even dished out some good passes. But he only shot 6/15 from the floor, which is never good for a big man, especially someone of his size. He also had five turnovers, a couple of them careless and forced passes. It was a case of trying to do a little too much, even playmaking and bringing the ball up. It looks like he tried to make up for the complete lack of support from other players and it didn’t really work out for him and the team.
- Probably the most glaring aspect of this game was UE daring Ateneo to shoot. The Blue Eagles obliged going 14/42 from behind the arc for 33%. It’s not the most efficient of numbers but it is higher than their season average. What’s more important is the quality of those looks and the fact that they kept hitting them in back-to-back possessions to really break UE’s spirit. The Red Warriors had the right idea in forcing the Blue Eagles to beat them from the outside, much like how UST and FEU made them struggle. But if the gameplan was to leave them them completely open and not even bother to challenge, then it completely blew up in their faces. It looks like they had the wrong idea on how the two aforementioned teams were mildly successful on that front.
- The Red Warriors’ other problem was, again, the complete lack of support outside of Diakhite. They managed to outscore them 30-22 in terms of points in the paint but were clobbered from the perimeter 50-10. Heck, Ateneo’s bench alone almost outscored the entire UE squad with 47 points. Rey Suerte in particular had a terrible time as he tallied just 10 points on 33% shooting. Part of that was Ateneo’s defense but another part was seemingly the lack of fight. His inconsistency has been a bit of a problem despite his flashy scoring and it showed here. Even on defense he was a bit non-existent and his body language wasn’t great. For what was pretty much a do-or-die game for them to have a chance at still making the final four, they didn’t show a lot of fight.
- With the game pretty much decided in the third quarter, it allowed Tab Baldwin to give a bit more time to his third-stringers in garbage time. Jason Credo and Geo Chiu in particular showed flashed some potential. Credo had a few nifty drives and drop passes while Chiu lorded over UE’s smaller frontline. With four key players set to graduate after this season, these two along with guys like Belangel and Daves have shown that Ateneo will still be in capable hands. That’s another scary thought for the rest of the league.