And “tonight we answered,” coach Ateneo Tab Baldwin said after the defending champions held up a tough race to a 69-66 win over a stubborn University of the Philippines (UP ) in game 2 of the UAAP men’s basketball final on Wednesday. at the Mall of Asia Arena.
But a title that seemed to have been guaranteed for the Blue Eagles even after a nasty loss that ended a 39-match winning streak at the end of the knockout stages now balances even after squeezing the win out – a feat. Uncertainty is underscored by what Baldwin says is key in Game 2.
“We made the changes and it was enough for us to survive,” he said.
“The two games we play are very similar. Finally in game 1 they went big and finally tonight we went big. That’s the only difference,” added Baldwin.
They’ll need to replicate that ratio again for Game 3 on Friday, when both teams engage in one final battle for the crown. Because the Maroons will certainly find a way to recover.
UP’s Carl Tamayo said: “Next time we should be more calm. “Mistakes happen and this is a good learning experience for the team.”
Ange Kouame has produced some of the biggest plays at both ends of the deck. He finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds. And although he missed four of his six free throws, he blocked eight as his numbers confirmed the Most Valuable Player (MVP) title he picked up before The game begins.
It’s not like he’s struggled to prove himself worthy of being named Ateneo’s first MVP since Kiefer Ravena in 2014 and 2015.
“I tried to stay in the moment and just let the game come to me,” Kouame said.
Tyler Tio added 14 points while Dave Ildefonso scored 10 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals as the two wingers bounced back after their Game 1 struggles.
“I had a different mindset for Game 2,” said Ildefonso. “Each property, every quarter, we just took it one step at a time.”
UP was abrupt early in the second half but regrouped as it had done in the knockout stages. The Maroons erased a 15-point deficit in the third period and look poised to wipe out the Eagles’ reign after consistently holding their ground in a see-saw battle over the long haul.
The final game was tied at 61 before Kouame scored on a back-kick and Gian Mamuyac hit two UP fumbles, leading to four points in the transition as Ateneo took the lead. offset 69-63 with 48 seconds remaining.
Kouame ran away with the MVP title after amassing 69,214 stats with an average of 12.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 1.7 assists and 1 steal at the end of the elimination period.
“I just wanted to say thank you to the Ateneo community. It’s been a long year and you’re still there. Thank you also to my teammates for always being there,” Kouame said.
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