By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
DEFENDING University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball champions Ateneo Blue Eagles moved two games away from completing a sweep of the elimination round of Season 82 after notching their 12th win in as many games in league action on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Led by big men Isaac Go and Ange Kouame, the Eagles (12-0) soared past the Warriors, 84-50, to move ever closer to a rare sweep of the classification phase and strengthening their push for a third straight UAAP title.
Go finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, and Kouame had 11 points, eight boards and three blocks to help steer Ateneo to the victory that had the team overcoming an early challenge from UE (3-9) and then not taking its foot off the gas pedal when it finally got going to build a comfortable lead and not looking back after.
The Warriors came out aggressive to start the contest, building some traction before the Eagles eventually got their footing and started exacting their will on their opponents.
Adrian Wong found his touch and helped Ateneo build a 17-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second canto the Eagles continued to pour it on the Warriors as Thirdy Ravena and Kouame made their presence felt.
Big man Alex Diakhite tried to jolt further fight to his team but it was not enough to stop UE from lagging, 40-25, by the halftime break.
The third quarter saw things get worse for the Warriors as the Eagles found their mark beyond the arc.
Ateneo raced to a 56-31 advantage with three minutes left in the frame, extending it further to a 30-point lead, 65-35, heading into the payoff quarter.
UE tried to make things happen to begin the fourth period but had little success in getting headway as Ateneo was unrelenting in its attack.
The Eagles maintained a very wide distance of 31 points, 72-41, midway into the final canto.
From there they were no longer threatened and cruised along for the win.
Ravena finished with 11 points for Ateneo, followed by SJ Belangel and Wong with nine points each.
As a team, the Eagles shot 33.3% (14-of-42) from three-point land.
For UE, which with the loss was eliminated from the Final Four race, it was Diakhite who showed the way with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
Rey Suerte added 10 markers for the Warriors.
Next for Ateneo is a meeting with already-eliminated National University Bulldogs on Oct. 26 while UE takes on the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in its penultimate assignment for UAAP Season 82 on Oct. 27.