By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles dominated in all facets of the game to demolish the National University (NU) Bulldogs, 77-60, in the ongoing UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament.
After getting blitzed by two quick buckets by the Bulldogs in the first minute of the ball game, the Blue Eagles responded with a huge 11-0 run that held NU scoreless for four-straight minutes since their 4-0 start.
A combination of well-executed offensive schemes and tremendous defensive helps summed up Ateneo’s stellar first quarter led by reigning Most Valuable Player Ange Kouame who dropped nine points in the first 10 minutes of the game.
The Bulldogs fought with their all in the next period but the more fluid and systematic Ateneo offense picked NU apart and headed to the second half with an eight-point lead, 38-30, after a BJ Andrade three-pointer.
After a Forthsky Padrigao three-pointer to open the third quarter, the Blue Eagles suddenly went beast mode and flipped the switch to extend their lead to 19 points, 49-30.
Ateneo made crucial adjustments defensively and went to a 2-3 zone to disrupt NU’s offensive rhythm that kept them scoreless in the first five minutes of the third frame.
The Blue Eagles never looked back and led by as much as 22 points that put them at the top of the standings with a 2-0 record together with the defending champions University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons.
“I’m really pleased to get the win. I think NU is going to be a difficult team throughout the season. They will gonna get better and better,” said Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin.
Kouame led the way for the Blue Eagles with another double-double performance of 17 points and 12 rebounds backstopped by Padrigao with 13 points, five assists, four rebounds, and three steals.
Ateneo will have two days of rest before taking on their retooled rival school De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers on October 9 to be held at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.