SUDDEN DEATH. Ange Kouame leads Ateneo to a decisive 65-55 Game 2 win against the University of the Philippines at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night (Dec. 14, 2022). The victory also sent the finals to a sudden death. (Photo courtesy of UAAP Season 85 Media Team)

MANILA – Ateneo forced a third and deciding game in the UAAP men's basketball finals after drubbing the University of the Philippines (UP), 65-55, in front of 20,616 fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

"We lived to fight another day," Coach Tab Baldwin said after the Blue Eagles turned to its defense to hold off an error-prone Fighting Maroons squad that failed to sweep the best-of-three championship series.

UP actually had a chance to turn things around after cutting the lead down to nine, 63-54, with 4:46 left, but Ateneo held the team to only one point the rest of the way.

Ange Kouame led the Blue Eagles with 19 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and three steals, while Kai Ballungay added 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting.

Carl Tamayo made 15 markers, while JD Cagulangan added 11 for the Fighting Maroons in a game where newly-crowned season Most Valuable Player Malick Diouf was held to just two points.

Worse, they might play Game 3 on Monday night back at "The Big Dome" without Zav Lucero, who injured his knee in the fourth quarter of Game 2.

The Scores:

Ateneo 65 – Kouame 19, Ballungay 15, Padrigao 11, Daves 6, Chiu 6, Ildefonso 3, Gomez 2, Lazaro 2, Koon 1, Quitevis 0, Andrade 0.

UP 55 – Tamayo 15, Cagulangan 11, Fortea 9, Lucero 6, Alarcon 5, Abadiano 4, Diouf 2, Galinato 2, Spencer 1, Gonzales 0, Calimag 0, Lina 0.

Quarters: 20-19, 41-33, 57-44, 65-55. (PNA)