UAAP: Ange Kouame, Ateneo rally from 19-points down to beat FEU
MANILA, Philippines — Ange Kouame lead Ateneo’s comeback from a 19-point deficit to avoid the upset attempt of Far Eastern University, 71-65, for its third straight victory in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Kouame willed the Blue Eagles back with 20 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, and a block in erasing the Tamaraws’ 19-point lead early in the second quarter, 39-20, as he scored 10 of 13 straight points in a blistering third-quarter run.
Ateneo ended the third with just a five-point deficit, 54-49, then continued to power through in the payoff period to get the first lead of the game 56-55, off Paul Garcia’s triple with 8:34 remaining.
Xyrus Torres restored the order for FEU with back-to-back treys to regain the advantage, 61-56, but Kouame capped the Blue Eagles’ eight straight unanswered points for a 64-61 lead in the final 2:28.
L-Jay Gonzales came to the rescue for the Tamaraws with back-to-back points to tie the game, 65-all. But Kouame sank two free throws to give back the lead to Ateneo before Gonzales and Torres missed the last four three-point attempts while Forthsky Padrigao and Dave Ildefonso sealed the win with their free throws.
“I don’t have to tell anybody how tough it was. You all saw that. As usual, Olsen does a great job preparing his team. It seems like he does a great job preparing for us,” said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin praising FEU coach Olsen Racela.
“We always seem to escape FEU. That’s probably really tough for the FEU coaching staff and players because they always seem so well-prepared for us, and it always feels like an escape act when we win against them,” said Baldwin.
The hard-earned victory boosted the Blue Eagles’ chance for a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four with an 8-3 record, tied with National University in the second seed as of posting time.
“To be perfectly honest, that win was just heart and some decent execution in the fourth quarter. But up until then, we were pretty bad, really, in most aspects of the game. In the third quarter, our defense finally dug in and shut them down,” Baldin said.
“But it looked like they [Tamaraws] were the much-better prepared team, and they were also fighting extremely hard.”
Padrigao was also instrumental with 13 points, six assists, five rebounds, and a steal. BJ Andrade chipped in nine points, Ildefonso had eight points and nine boards, while Garcia added eight markers.
Torres’ five triples to finish with 19 points went for naught as FEU suffered its third straight loss, dropping to 4-8. Gonzales had 15 points, four rebounds, and two assists. Patrick Sleat had 10 points and six dimes, while Patrick Tchuente added eight markers and 13 boards.
ATENEO 71 — Kouame 20, Padrigao 13, Andrade 9, Ildefonso 8, Garcia 8, Ballungay 5, Koon 4, Lazaro 2, Daves 2, Chiu 0, Quitevis 0.
FEU 65 — Torres 19, Gonzales 15, Sleat 10, Tchuente 8, Anonuevo 8, Bagunu 3, Bautista 2, Alforque 0, Sajonia 0, Sandagon 0, Tempra 0.
Quarters: 14-21, 27-41, 49-54, 71-65.
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