Despite different paths to finals, UST and Ateneo brace for all-out war
MANILA, Philippines—Ateneo and University of Santo Tomas had wildly different paths to the championship round of the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament.
The Blue Eagles, owners of the past two championships, received an automatic finals ticket courtesy of their 14-0 sweep while the No. 4 Growling Tigers had to go through a three-game gauntlet to reach the final round.
Yet for all the differences these two teams have, there’s one statistical figure that has drawn them closer than ever—7.5 points.
That mark is Ateneo’s average winning margin over UST and the 7.5-point differential is also the closest any team has gotten against the Blue Eagles the whole tournament.
Ateneo has also made a reputation of being nearly robotic, a notion that head coach Tab Baldwin was quick to dispel, blowing out opponents every step of the way but the Growling Tigers were the only team the Blue Eagles nearly lost to when their first meeting ended in a 71-70 thriller.
Nevertheless, the Blue Eagles bounced back with a 66-52 victory in Round 2.
In those games between the two finalists, two-time Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena emerged as Ateneo’s top player averaging 17 points and 9.5 rebounds a game.
UST, meanwhile, had two separate players to tow its load in the award-winning partnership of Soulemane Chabi Yo and Mark Nonoy.
Chabi Yo, who will be named Season 82 MVP, was marvelous in the first round meeting, putting up 25 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks while Nonoy, the Rookie of the Year, had 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting in the second match.
Going back to the team aspect, Ateneo also made sure to slow down UST’s perimeter shooting—the area that the trigger-happy Growling Tigers have made a living out of.
UST averaged 41.2 perimeter points against all the other teams in the league but the Growling Tigers had difficulty finding their rhythm against the Blue Eagles scoring an average of 30.5 points outside the paint.