Defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles handed the UP Fighting Maroons their first defeat of the season in an intense 87-79 game dubbed as the “Battle of Katipunan” on 12 September 2018.
Although Bright Akhuetie managed to get the crowd going with the first shot for UP, Blue Eagles Kakou Koume and Anton Asistio were quick to follow through and establish a lead. Top-scorer Juan Gomez De Liano and Paul Desiderio amped up their defense, alongside the Gelo Vito and Jun Manzo tandem that earned them a two-point advantage. Blue Eagle Thirdy Ravena put a stop to UP’s short-lived lead, bringing the score to 15-15 before timeout.
Gomez De Liano (Juan) dunked the basket, closing in at 19-all, which was then answered by Ateneo’s Isaac Go, hot on his tail with a three-point shot. Javi Gomez De Liano got a quick basket, up until Mike Nieto and Juan Gomez De Liano both rained in three pointers, ending the first quarter with 25-24, in favor of the Blue Eagles.
The second quarter opened with a Javi three-point basket, and though the score was tied at 27-all, UP’s David Murrell teamed up with Akhuetie and Desiderio to bring it to 31-27, in favor of the Fighting Maroons. Ravena and Matt Nieto fought against the current, gaining the upper hand before reaching a 33-all. Ravena swept in with a one-hand dunk to follow up a miss. Halftime rolled in with 46-43, still on the blue and white side.
Ateneo’s Asistio opened the third quarter with a three-pointer, while Rafael Verano pitched in with a successful free throw. Manzo led UP for this quarter, even as Kouame was proving to be a difficult opponent. In the last few seconds, Will Gozum ran in with a resounding last shot, but the scores ended up with the Blue Eagles prevailing at 67-58.
Tension rose during the last quarter. Ateneo’s Isaac Go sunk in the first field goal, with Jose Lorenzo Mendoza following suit. Kouame threw in a fastbreak dunk, paving Ateneo’s way to 73-62. After a play inside, Coach Bo Perasol stormed towards the court in protest, and was ordered out of the court within the last 6 minutes and 56 seconds left.
The Fighting Maroons were determined to finish strong. In the last 56 seconds of the game, Ravena was quick on his feet, despite Desiderio’s final shot, landing the Ateneo Blue Eagles their first win of the season at 87-79.
Amid the tight game, Blue Eagles Head Coach Tab Baldwin was all praises for the Fighting Maroons, “That UP team is very good, aren’t they (sic)? They got great attack and spirit. They’re ferocious on the offense,” he said before acknowledging that the Ateneo Blue Eagles still have room for improvement in the upcoming games.
ADMU 87 | Ravena 17, Asistio 16, Kouame 14, Nieto (Matthew) 12, Nieto (Michael) 7, Go 5, Mendoza 5, Wong 5, Verano 4, Black 2, Belangel 0, Navarro 0
UP 79 | Gomez De Liano (Juan) 29, Desiderio 15, Manzo 9, Akhuetie 8, Gomez De Liano (Javier) 5, Murrell 4, Dario 3, Gozum 2, Prado 2, Vito 2, Jaboneta 0, Lim 0, Spencer 0, Tungcab 0