MANILA – Ateneo moved within a win of sweeping the first round of the UAAP men's basketball tournament after trumping the University of the East (UE), 94-72, in Matchday 6 action on Thursday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
However, while the result was a rout by definition, it was not really a total dominance from the still undefeated Blue Eagles as the winless Red Warriors actually threatened to pull off a massive upset early into this top-versus-bottom battle.
What everyone expected to be a smooth cruise for Ateneo turned out to be a tight one for the first 25 minutes of the game as UE put up a gallant fight and even led by five at some points of the match, the last at 53-48 midway through the third quarter.
But the Blue Eagles finished the third on a 17-2 run to take a 65-55 advantage and finally pulled away after a 29-17 fourth quarter.
Gian Mamuyac and Ange Kouame each scored 21 points with the Gilas Pilipinas naturalized center completing a double-double with 13 rebounds for the now 6-0 Ateneo, which can complete the sweep on Saturday against the University of Santo Tomas (UST).
Mamuyac came close to his own double-double as he grabbed nine boards of his own as Ateneo has now won 32 straight games since 2018.
Kyle Paranada and Harvey Pagsanjan each tallied 15 markers for UE, which fell to 0-6.
The team can avert a winless first round if it deposes National University (NU), 82-51 winner over UST right before the Ateneo-UE game, in the first game of the Saturday quadruple-header.
Two nights after pushing the Ateneo Blue Eagles to the limit only to fall short, the Bulldogs vented their ire on the Growling Tigers especially in the second half, holding them to just 20 points while dropping 47 to pull away for good.
Reyland Torres led NU's scoring pace in the first half that somehow kept UST at bay and finished with 12 points, one rebound, one assist, and three steals.
John Figueroa was among the Bulldogs who took over in the second half, eventually tallying 11 markers, seven boards, one steal, and two blocks.
Shaun Ildefonso made all of his 10 points in the second half while also having six rebounds, two assists, and one steal.
The win gave the team the solo fourth spot at 3-3.
Nicael Caballero made 11 markers, eight caroms, three dimes, and two steals for UST, which momentarily dropped to sixth place at 2-4 pending the result of the game between Far Eastern University and Adamson, which is ongoing as of posting. (PNA)