Ateneo Blue Eagles def. FEU Tamaraws 82-62
Angelo Kouame (33 points, 27 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 15/18 FG)
A scintillating performance by the Ivorian as he posted a monster double-double for the defending champions. Kouame’s 33 points is a personal career high (and also the most points scored by a foreign student-athlete for Ateneo since Kirk Long’s 22 points) while his 27 rebounds set a new record for most boards grabbed in a UAAP game since Papi Sarr’s 25 rebounds in Season 79. His achievement was then appreciated by the Ateneo crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum as he received a round of applause and Most Valuable Player (MVP) chants when he was substituted with less than a minute remaining in the game.
Tyler Tio (8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 turnovers, 3/13 FG)
With starting point guardMatt Nieto still out with an injury, Tio started the game once again and orchestrated the Ateneo offense magnificently. Tyler was steady throughout the game despite struggling to shoot the basketball. He probably won’t mind his field goal percentage as the Blue Eagles cruised to their seventh win this campaign.
Adrian Wong (7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist)
The suspension of Thirdy Ravena opened up the opportunity for Wong to start the game, and he did not disappoint. In their first round meeting, he launched a three-pointer at the right wing that could’ve tied the game but it fell short. His first attempt in this game was near the same spot but it yielded a different result this time around. This shows that Wong’s self-confidence did not waver as he continued to shoot despite the crucial miss a couple of weeks ago. He also did an admirable job in slowing down Jasper Parker (7 points on 2/11 FG shooting).
Brandey Bienes (8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 2/7 3-point FG)
Another suspension for Arvin Tolentino meant additional minutes for the reserve forward. Bienes hit a three-pointer and a bank shot in the fourth quarter to keep pace with the Blue Eagles but his scoring exploits were not enough to prevent a loss for the Tamaraws.
- The first 16 minutes of the game was a back-and-forth affair as it featured 5 lead changes and 4 deadlocks. Both ADMU and FEU were on par with each other, but the latter failed to make a basket in the last 4 minutes of the first half. The Blue Eagles took advantage of the Tamaraws’ scoring drought and headed into halftime with a 34-22 lead after a stunning 12-0 run.
- Ateneo missed three players in this game due to health problems (Matt and Mike Nieto) and a suspension (Ravena) but the reserves filled-in superbly. Tio and Wong started the game and provided ADMU head coach Tab Baldwin with valuable minutes as they steadied the offense with savvy playmaking. Both players grew as the game went on and this should be a welcome sight for Baldwin with the Nieto brothers likely to be out for an extended period.
- Speaking of reserves, the FEU bench (32) outscored the starters (30) with Hubert Cani recording a team-high 13 points. The Tamaraws also have a reliable bench just like the Blue Eagles but they simply could not stop Kouame.
- With FEU big man Prince Orizu succumbing to an injury in the first period, Kouame capitalized on the golden opportunity to dominate the paint and lead his team to victory. Tamaraws head coach Olsen Racela put several players on the Atenean but they were all powerless against Kouame. Orizu was FEU’s best bet in slowing down the Ivorian in this game but due to the unfortunate injury, Racela had to alter his game plan and adapt to the situation.
- The Blue Eagles grabbed 55 boards (19 offensive) en route to their 82-62 triumph and had 23 second-chance points. The rebounding activity of the Ateneans gave them more opportunities to score the basketball, and at the same time, limiting the Tamaraws’ second-chance points (they only had 11).
- Side note: The first two meetings of Ateneo and FEU this season featured depleted line-ups and it would’ve been nice if we could see them play with a complete and healthy roster. If Orizu can return this season and push the Tamaraws to a Final Four slot (or even a Finals appearance) then we can finally see both squads battle at full strength. A season-ending injury for the 6’6 big man may decrease the chances of FEU to go the distance in Season 81.