By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE DEFENDING champions Ateneo Blue Eagles continued to soar in University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 82, defeating the tailending National University Bulldogs, 71-50, in league action on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
In their element collectively right from tip off, the Eagles (5-0) proved to be a handful for the Bulldogs (0-5) on their way to winning their fifth game in as many outings in the ongoing season and have their title defense set on further firmer footing while keeping NU winless to date.
Clicking on both ends of the court, led by its 6’11” big man Angelo Kouame, Ateneo had early traction which it used to build a 20-11 advantage at the end of the opening quarter.
NU tried to fashion out a rally to begin the second canto with Shaun Ildefonso and Enzo Joson finding their mark.
But the Eagles were quick to nip the NU move in the bud as they went on to build a 34-20 advantage with four minutes to go in the frame.
They kept pounding on the Bulldogs the rest of the way en route to an even bigger lead of 17 points, 41-24, at the half.
In the third quarter NU came out with more spring on its legs.
Dave Ildefonso and RJ Minerva led an 8-2 run in the first four minutes to tow the Bulldogs to within 11 points, 43-32.
Ateneo then stepped up its defense, limiting NU to just five points after and seeing itself continue to hold sway, 50-37, with one quarter left to play.
Had their way for much of the contest, the Eagles went for an early finish to begin the final quarter.
Mike Nieto, Gian Mamuyac and Kouame paced Ateneo’s 11-3 run as they stretched their lead to 21 points, 61-40, with 5:30 left in the game.
From there NU tried to make a comeback but with little success as Ateneo showed no letup in its attack and went on to bank the victory which moved it step closer to completing a sweep of the opening round of Season 82.
Kouame led the way for the Eagles with 15 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks.
Mamuyac added 13 points while Thirdy Ravena had eight points for Ateneo.
Over at NU it was Dave Ildefonso who top-scored with 10 points followed by his brother Shaun with nine markers and Issa Gaye eight.
The Eagles play next on Sept. 25 against the University of the East Red Warriors while NU also plays on the same date against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws.