Ateneo de Manila University kept its four-peat dreams alive, shrugging off University of the Philippines, 69-66, to force a do-or-die Game Three in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball Finals, Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Blue Eagles finally broke their two-game skid against the Fighting Maroons, who stopped their 39-game winning streak last May 1 to end the elimination round.
The winner-take-all Game Three will be on Friday, 6 pm.
Trailing by just a point in the fourth quarter, Ateneo went on a 5-0 blitz courtesy of Ange Kouame’s split from the line, a putback, and SJ Belangel’s fastbreak layup for the four-point lead with 2:03 to go, 65-61.
Zavier Lucero responded for UP with a perfect trip to the charity stripe but was negated by two splits by Kouame and Dave Ildefonso, 64-63, with 1:04 left.
Then in the ensuing play, the Fighting Maroons committed an inbounding error that gave Gian Mamuyac a free lane to the rack with 48.9 seconds remaining, 69-63.
Ricci Rivero was able to answer with a layup on the other end which was followed by a Belangel miss from deep the next play with roughly 17 seconds left, 65-69.
However, Rivero appeared to have lost track of the scoreline, a four-point deficit at the time, taking too much time before taking a shot with just two ticks left when he was fouled in the paint which cost UP the game.
Season MVP Kouame stayed true to his award with 14 points, 14 rebounds, and eight blocks.
Tyler Tio and Dave Ildefonso bounced back from their poor showings in Game One. The former made 14 points while the latter had 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Rookie of the Year Carl Tamayo played big time for the Fighting Maroons with 18 points, 12 rebounds, two steals, and a block.
Rivero chipped in 16 points, four steals, and four rebounds against five turnovers.