Ateneo books fifth-straight UAAP basketball grand finals ticket

Dave Ildefonso and the Ateneo Blue Eagles are headed to their fifth-straight grand finals (The UAAP Facebook page)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Too strong, too dominant.

For the fifth-straight University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball season, the mighty Ateneo Blue Eagles clinched another grand finals seat after taking down the young Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws squad, 85-72, during the Final Four clash of Season 84.

Ateneo wasted no time buckling down to work and was eager to avenge their disappointing loss against the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons that ended their four-year 39-0 winning streak in the UAAP.

BJ Andrade led the Blue Eagles’ hot-shooting and contributed 13 huge points built from an impressive 6/8 shooting from the field.

After setting up Andrade, the rest of the Blue Eagles piled up the points and put on a strong defensive hold against RJ Abarrientos and the rest of the Tamaraws.

“I think the psychological side of things, the players handled it extremely well. They came out very focused today but I really want to give credit today to the assistant coaches,” said Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin.

FEU tried to mount one last offensive comeback after kicking off the final canto with an 11-2 run but Ateneo quickly responded with their efficient and patient offense.

SJ Belangel iced the game and took control of the pace during the last six minutes which prevented the Tamaraws from inching closer.

The former Gilas Pilipinas standout finished the game with 14 points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals while Gian Mamuyac and Dave Ildefonso added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Ateneo will be facing the winner between the De La Salle University Green Archers and the UP Fighting Maroons who will square off in a rubber match today.