The Ateneo Blue Eagles held the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons to their lowest output this season as they prevailed in a 65-55 triumph on Wednesday in Game 2 of the 85th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball finals at the Araneta Coliseum.
Angelo Kouame held sway with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Blue Eagles, who forced a deciding Game 3 on Monday, also at the Big Dome.
Carl Tamayo shot 24 points for the Fighting Maroons, who scored lower than their second round 67-75 setback to the Blue Eagles, who now have a chance to go for their 12th title with the best-of-three finals series now tied at 1-all.
Bryson Ballungay drilled in 15 points, while Rence Padrigao added 11, including nine in the first half at the Blue Eagles took charge early with a 41-33 halftime lead.
Ballungay put the Blue Eagles up to their biggest lead of 16 at 56-42, with his triple early in the third.
The Maroons managed to trim it down with Tamayo’s eight points he knocked in the remaining 5:02, 54-63, but it was the best UP could muster as Ateneo pulled off the bounce-back triumph.
Meanwhile, Senegalese big man Malick Diouf of UP snatched the MVP award just before the start of Game 2.
The 6’11” big man averaged 10.79 points, 10.86 rebounds, 2.86 assists, 1.57 blocks, and 1.5 steals during the elimination round and tallied 73.9 statistical points to beat teammate Carl Tamayo for the top honors.
Kevin Quiambao of La Salle earned the Rookie of the Year award.
Joining the Mythical Five with Diouf and Tamayo are University of the East’s Luis Villegas, Ateneo’s Sean Ildefonso and Rence Padrigao.
“We lived to fight another day. Both of these schools, both of these teams. Everybody what sports fighting is tonight,” said Blue Eagles’ coach Tab Baldwin.
The Fighting Maroons lost one of they key guys in Zavier Lucero while they were down, 44-59, after he tried to attack the basket.
Lucero, who was getting screened by Chris Koon and Anton Quitevis, hurt his left knee, during the play, resulting in an awkward execution as he sprinted towards the net. He had to be carried out of the court afterwards.
“First of all, I want to say I hope Zav Lucero is okay. Nobody wants to see that, our players don’t want to see that. We hope that its not serious,” added Baldwin.