UAAP Season 81 Starting 5: Week 5
It’s the transition week between the first round and the second round and the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament just turned from wild to downright bonkers.
The fight for positioning for those precious top four spots are heating up.
Adamson University no longer has that armor of invincibility while Ateneo is looking more and more like the defending champion.
Far Eastern University was among the elite for less than 24 hours when perennial archrival University of Santo Tomas took down the Tamaraws again at the start of the second round.
De La Salle is, surprisingly, on a stable ground in the fourth spot while University of the Philippines is looking to approach a slippery slope to futility.
Enough of that, here are the players that made Week 5 into a spectacle.
Angelo Kouame (Ateneo de Manila University, center)
He’s Ateneo’s 6-foot-10 rock in the middle and Angelo Kouame has undoubtedly become a towering presence in both the offense and defensive ends for the defending champions.
Kouame has been nothing short of brilliant in Week 5 displaying defensive intensity and offensive prowess for the Blue Eagles as they split their two games between the first and second rounds.
The center had a bittersweet ending to his first round when his line of 16 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks couldn’t save Ateneo against FEU losing 63-60.
That game, however, became a precedent for Kouame as UP tried every trick to stop him in Ateneo’s next match.
Kouame was quiet on the offensive end for the Blue Eagles putting up just nine points as the Fighting Maroons converged on him every chance but he did get 16 rebounds in the 83-66 Ateneo win.
Thirdy Ravena (Ateneo de Manila University, forward)
Thirdy Ravena has been relatively quiet for the Blue Eagles during the first round averaging just 10.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists and those averages included his production of 8 points, one rebound, and four assists in their loss to the Tamaraws.
Those seven games have long been over and Ravena seems to have made his proper arrival in the season when he showcased what he’s really capable of against the Fighting Maroons.
Ravena tore up UP’s defenses and put up 21 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks as the Fighting Maroons ducked for cover during his continuous onslaught.
CJ Cansino (University of Santo Tomas, small forward)
It’s almost unfair to consider CJ Cansino to be a rookie at this point in time.
UST’s wunderkind was a sight to behold for the Growling Tigers as he displayed unparalleled versatility as a wing.
Cansino finished in seventh in the MVP race after the first round after accumulating 57.4286 statistical points and averaged 14.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists for the Tigers in the first round.
And part of those numbers were his line of 16 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists, when UST ripped UP apart, 86-72, in a master class of Basketball 101.
Cansino followed that up with five points, 12 rebounds, and three assists in the Tigers’ 78-70 over the Tamaraws helping UST to get to an overall 4-4 record for the season.
John Lloyd Clemente (National University, shooting guard)
The first round was some sort of feeling out phase for John Lloyd as he tried to find his niche with National University’s backcourt rotation.
Clemente averaged meager numbers of 8.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in the Bulldogs’ first six games of the season.
Then end of the first and Clemente looked to have finally found his footing with the Bulldogs when he led NU in their 88-61 conquest of University of the East.
Clemente put up 21 points, a career-high, and grabbed four rebounds for the Bulldogs who snapped a five-game losing streak when they beat the Red Warriors for a 2-5 record.
Aljun Melecio (De La Salle University, shooting guard)
As crazy as the season has been, De La Salle seems to be on a steady pace.
The Green Archers are sitting comfortably in the fourth spot of the standings with a 4-3 record and part of that relative success was the play of Aljun Melecio.
Melecio has been La Salle’s heart and soul throughout the season and his performance at the end of the first round spoke volumes of the trust the Green Archers put on him.
Against the Soaring Falcons, Melecio was on kill mode putting up 22 points in the Green Archers’ 79-78 overtime win.
Melecio wasn’t just putting up shots, he was also making the buckets when it mattered the most.
He was the one that sent the game to overtime when he drilled a floater with 13.6 seconds left in regulation for the 64-64 tie and he went at it again in the extra frame when he made another teardrop for La Salle’s 69-64 lead with 4:04 to play.
Justine Baltazar (De La Salle University, center)
Melecio isn’t the only one responsible for La Salle’s steady trajectory in the UAAP as he had plenty of help from the Green Archers’ big men.
First off is center Justine Baltazar whose length has been a problem for opposing players.
Baltazar’s gangly capabilities was a big factor in the Green Archers’ 79-78 win over the Soaring Falcons when he finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, one steal, and five blocks.
His exploits, though, aren’t the only ones that came with a green La Salle jersey.
Santi Santillan (De La Salle University, center)
Santi Santillan and Baltazar’s frontcourt partnership for La Salle was crucial against the Soaring Falcons as both big men showed capabilities not only under the basket but also away from it.
Both big men can play outside and hit jumpers and Santillan used that to his advantage when he put up 16 points, including three from beyond the arc, nine rebounds, and two blocks.
Santillan also showed his composure for the Green Archers when he scored half of his output in the fourth quarter.
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