Blue Eagles use depth, defense to defeat DLSU

THE ATENEO Blue Eagles clawed down archrivals De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers, 81-69, in their second outing for the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament, on Sunday, September 8 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Blue Eagles’ win propelled them to a 2-0 record in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament, while the Archers opened their season with a 0-1 win-loss slate. 

Matt and Mike Nieto set the tone for the Eagles with a combined 33 points on 12/23 shooting and an impressive zero turnovers. Gian Mamuyac, who started in place of the injured Adrian Wong, notched a career-high 14 points and came up big in crunch time. Ivorian Center Angelo Kouame only managed six points, but was immense on the defensive end, tallying 19 rebounds and five blocks.

The Archers were paced by Fil-Am Jamie Malonzo’s 18-point 10-rebound introduction to the UAAP. Andrei Caracut also chipped in 14 points and five assists, while Justine Baltazar contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds. Their intriguing one-and-done seniors, Keys Meeker and James Pado, failed to score in 10 minutes of action and did not see the floor for the entire second half. 

The game opened at a breakneck pace with both teams trading baskets; Ateneo just edged DLSU, 23-21, after the first period. Early foul trouble for DLSU gave way for a giant 21-1 Ateneo run led by Mike Nieto, which gave Ateneo a commanding 51-29 advantage at the half. 

Down the final stretch, an Aljun Melecio bucket capped a 10-1 DLSU run and brought them within nine points with 5:40 left to play. However, staunch team defense and key plays from Mamuyac and Kouame kept the surging Archers at bay. 

Mamuyac rose highest in the Blue Eagles’ fourth-quarter stand, pouring in eight key markers including a putback on his own effort to ice the game at 79-69.

The Blue Eagles’ suffocating defense forced DLSU to cough up 18 turnovers, while their presence on the boards earned them 24 second-chance points to DLSU’s 12. Ateneo’s depth was also on full display, finishing with 32 bench points.

Head Coach Tab Baldwin praised his squad’s defensive efforts. “Overall the defense was tough [and] aggressive. We covered a lot of mistakes with effort, and of course, having Kouame out there makes our defense pretty tough, but I thought guys like [Isaac] Go did a pretty good job too when he was in there.”

In their third game of the season, Ateneo will face the energetic University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers on Wednesday, September 12, 10:30 AM, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Quarter Scores:

Ateneo-DLSU: 23-21, 51-29, 66-50, 81-69

Box Scores:

Ateneo (81): M. Nieto - 18, J. Nieto - 15, Mamuyac - 14, Navarro - 8, Andrade - 6, Kouame - 6, Ravena - 6, Tio - 4, Belangel - 2, Go - 2

DLSU (69): Malonzo - 18, Caracut - 14, Baltazar - 10, Serrano - 8, Melecio - 7, Lojera - 6, Manuel - 6

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