Ateneo clobbers UST in Game 1 to close in on UAAP championship
MANILA, Philippines–Thirdy Ravena fired 32 points as defending champion Ateneo came out tenacious after a 16-day break, bringing down University of Santo Tomas, 91-77, Saturday night to move on the cusp of a perfect season in UAAP Season 82 at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
In a performance reminiscent to his Game 2 explosion in last season’s finals win over University of the Philippines, Ravena put on a dazzling show as he anchored the Blue Eagles strong start with 11 points in the first period, where Ateneo built an early double-digit advantage.
Ivorian center Ange Kouame was a pillar of strength inside the paint once again, adding 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds for the Eagles, who could complete their unbeaten run with a third straight crown with a win in Game 2 on Wednesday at MOA Arena.
The Growling Tigers survived three knockout games to reach the finals, but they ran into an inspired Ateneo team that hardly showed any rust even with its more than two-week hiatus.
Behind eight quick points by Ravena, the Eagles raced to an 18-2 lead in the first five minutes of the game played in front of the season’s biggest crowd at 19,176.
Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy finished with a career-high 26 points, including 18 in the second half where he kept the Tigers within striking distance.
Nonoy’s triple allowed UST to creep in at 38-41, but SJ Belangel responded with a trey to also set off a closing 13-1 burst that gave the Eagles a commanding 54-39 lead at the break.
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