Eagles overthrew the Maroons, regained the crown of UAAP

Ange Kouame Ateneo Blue Eagles UAAP Finals

Ange Kouame. UAAP PHOTO

Ateneo won the biggest battle — at least this season.

Shedding strong tears to start the game, the Blue Eagles overcame a belated desperate attack by the University of the Philippines (UP) Maroons to win 75-68 and reclaim the UAAP men’s basketball crown from their hands. defending champions.

Ange Kouame finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks and Ateneo made the most of the absence of key UP two-way player, Zavier Lucero, to open the game with five triples and a 30-start 12 to take control of Decisive Game 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“This means a lot to me because no one believes in us; even we didn’t believe in us in the first place. But Coach Tab [Baldwin] is the man and we just follow his lead,” said the 6-foot-10-year-old Filipino naturalized player, who was named Player of the Finals after averaging 17, 7 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.0 tackles in the series.

Kouame, who has been plagued by injuries all season, also scored a crucial goal that took three points and beat Carl Tamayo’s attempt to knock out UP’s last place and help the Blue Eagles reclaim the throne. gold they gave to the Maroons last season.

“Pain is only mental, it is only in the mind. When I get home tonight, it will still hurt. Thank you Ateneo community. Ateneo this is for you,” Kouame said.

As a result, Ateneo won his 12th UAAP men’s basketball crown, continuing to dominate the tournament that has spanned the past two decades.

“We are very lucky to have won it this time. It’s about the players. I’m proud of them and I feel so fortunate to be working with them,” Baldwin said of his fourth UAAP title with the Blue Eagles.

“I’m so grateful for their effort and I’m the lucky one to work with them and you know, I’m the lucky one to work with this university, so I’ll just leave it at that. ,” he added.

Down 12 in the fourth round, UP recovers within five points, 67-62, when the game is down to 2:12.

Ateneo recreated an eight-point cushion but Harold Alarcon’s three-point imbalance after a deliberate miss from the charity strip further reduced the deficit, 70-67, 20 seconds to play.

However, BJ Andrade’s freebies in dying seconds guaranteed victory.

While the entire Ateneo loyalists were ecstatic and stayed behind to celebrate the feat, the UP crowd slowly headed toward the exit of the Araneta Arena, bowed and bored.

“Those boys. The guys right there, the people right there and the support of the Ateneos around the world. A great start to the game, a great first half, and we made it through. storm,” Baldwin said.

Redeeming themselves after their defeat in the classic Game 3 finals last season, the Blue Eagles have now won four of the last five UAAP titles while also denying the Maroons the rare feat of winning two ball championships. UAAP basket in the same year.

Ateneo’s punitive defense also appeared, forcing the Maroons to try their best and challenge but they missed the target.

Tamayo sparked a rally that reduced the deficit to nine in the first half, but a massive treble by 6-foot-11 tall Geo Chiu and a floating athlete Forthsky Padrigao after surging JD Cagulangan with a serve that gave Ateneo a 47-32 lead at halftime .

This is the first time UP has lost in a row in 36 games under coach Goldwyn Monteverde. UP won the opener, but the Blue Eagles came back like crazy in Game 2.

And even worse for UP, Lucero fell in Game 2 in a non-contact play and tore his left knee ACL. The absence of 6 foot-7 created a void at both ends of the floor that UP could not fill.

Lucero cheered helplessly from the bench as his team was beaten. However, UP gave Lucero a well-deserved farewell. The graduate striker, who wears the uniform, registers and takes a technical free throw with 0.7 seconds remaining. request

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