Ateneo Blue Eagles def. UE Red Warriors, 90-70
Ange Kouame, Ateneo (18 points, 16 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 blocks)
Kouame once again led the charge as he dominated UE’s frontline, especially in the first half when he outrebounded the whole team 13-11. They just didn’t have any single player that could match up to him, even when they sent 3-4 guys at him. It also looks like Tab Baldwin has given him the green light to go coast-to-coast. It produced mixed results but it is definitely a scary thing for the opposition when he can grab a defensive board and run up the floor to score in transition.
Raffy Verano (14 points, 6 rebounds) and Jolo Mendoza, Ateneo (10 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists)
Two other players were responsible for Ateneo’s hot start. Verano seems to love to play against the Red Warriors as he tallied 10 points in the first quarter alone. Mendoza came off the bench to score all of his points in the first half. What was most impressive was his back-to-back drives to the basket. He seems more assertive playing as a 2-guard off the bench.
Alvin Pasaol (29 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block) and Philip Manalang, UE (18 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists)
UE relied heavily on two guys to carry the load for them. Pasaol and Manalang stuffed the stat sheets once again. Ateneo just had no real answer for both of them. Pasaol barreled into the paint almost at will. He even had a few highlight baskets against Kouame’s straight up defense. Manalang was extremely crafty with his penetration as well. It didn’t matter who he was matched up with, he always found a way to blow by them. This is probably where Ateneo missed Matt Nieto the most.
- Interestingly enough, both teams were pretty similar in almost every statistical category. Ateneo’s only real advantages were a 48-31 rebounding edge and being a +5 in 3PTM. The former is probably the biggest reason for their win, thanks in large part to Kouame’s dominance. They were able to rebound 84% of their own misses and 39% of their opponents’. That is primarily why they had 14 more attempts than UE despite having 19 TOs. They also scored 15 second-chance points. They dominated in the first half and did just enough in the second to win.
- UE tried to turn things around in the third quarter when they outscored Ateneo, 27-16. They did it with pesky defense and transition opportunities. It would be fair to say that a majority of Ateneo’s turnovers came in that quarter when they were experimenting with different lineups. Credit to the Red Warriors who took full advantage and relentlessly attacked, able to get several layups. For the game, they had 26 fastbreak points, which Ateneo can usually shut down. Once again, it was great to see the Warriors being warriors but the lead was just too big.
- Once more, Pasaol and Manalang just need more help. They still got 9 points from a flu-ridden Jason Varilla but not much from everyone else. Jose Cullar’s energy was noteworthy as well but it doesn’t seem like he’s ready to consistently produce yet. Pasaol is a one-man wrecking crew while Manalang is pretty good at driving and dishing, if only he could have targets that can score efficiently. That’s the conundrum of UE. Hopefully, they’ll have more than enough help in the following seasons.