MANILA, Philippines—Dragged into a deadlock after the opening quarter, Ateneo didn’t take long before it figured out Far Eastern University en route to a fifth straight UAAP finals appearance.
Facing full court pressure early from the Tamaraws, the Blue Eagles made the necessary adjustments in the second quarter.
“When a 16-16 first quarter becomes a 33-17 second quarter, a lot of that had to do with our assistant coaches,” Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin said after his squad’s 85-72 romp of FEU in the Final Four. “That second quarter gave us the break that we’re looking for.”
“We played a great second quarter. We were able to have some space and have some comfort there and the pressure wasn’t on in the end,” he added.
MVP frontrunner Ange Kouame powered the Blue Eagles with a near triple-double effort of nine points, 18 rebounds and eight assists. He also had five blocks.
The victory put Ateneo back to its winning ways after the Blue Eagles saw their 39-game run snapped by University of the Philippines on Sunday.
The UAAP Season 84 Finals begins on Sunday with No. 1 Ateneo, which is gunning for a fourth consecutive crown, taking on the winner between second seed UP and No. 3 La Salle in the other semifinals matchup.
The Green Archers forced a knockout game on Friday following an 83-80 win earlier in the day.
“It’s gonna be a great game on Friday. Who knows? I still think it’s a toss up. UP probably the smallest of favorites. But I wouldn’t put any money on this game,” Baldwin said.
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