Kouame Ange Kouame: 18 points and 12 rebounds in Ateneo’s series-tying win. UAAP photo

Eagles stay alive

May 12, 2022 Theodore P. Jurado 282 views

ATENEO turned to naturalized center Ange Kouame to extend the UAAP men’s basketball Finals to a decider with a 69-66 win over University of the Philippines last night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Koaume, who emerged as this season’s Most Valuable Player in the awards ceremony prior to Game 2, produced a double-double effort of 14 points and 14 rebounds to go with eight blocks for the Blue Eagles.

Gian Mamuyac produced the game’s biggest play with a steal and a fastbreak lay-up to put Ateneo at 69-63 with 48 seconds remaining.

The Blue Eagles leveled the series to one game apiece, foiling the Fighting Maroons bid to end a 36-year title drought.

The first Game 3 since 2017 will be played at 6 p.m. tomorrow at the same Pasay venue.

UP tried to complete a comeback from 15 points down but Ricci Rivero, who put his team closer to 65-69, took too long in having the ball late in the game.

Fouled in the final two seconds, Rivero made the first and intentionally missed the second, but the Maroons could not get the possession to have a chance for a potential game-tying triple.

Tyler Tio also had 14 points while Dave Ildefonso added 10 points, eight boards, four assists and two steals for Ateneo.

“The loss in Game 1 is a blessing because we fail in life it happens to everybody and i think our players and coaches looked at that as an opportunity to grow,” said coach Tab Baldwin.

Carl Tamayo, whose corner triple gave UP’s first lead at 57-56, took the scoring mantle with 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while Rivero added 16 points.

Winning in runaway fashion, Kouame bested a bevy of big men led by La Salle’s Justine Baltazar for the highest individual award.

The 24-year old Kouame became the first Blue Eagle to become season MVP since Kiefer Ravena won back-to-back in 2015.

“I just want to thank you to the Ateneo community,” said Kouame, who was serenaded by MVP chants after receiving the award.

“It’s been a long year and you guys have always been there. Thank you also to my teammates for always being there. Whatever we do is for the community. Let’s go Ateneo,” the Ivory Coast born added.

Tamayo, who has a makings of being the school’s next big star since Benjie Paras in the mid-80s, took home the Rookie of the Year honors.

Tallying 69.21 statistical points – the league’s sole basis for awarding – Kouame defeated Baltazar, who finished a far second with 63.0 SPs.

Kouame and Baltazar were also named in the Mythical Five, which also includes the Fighting Maroons standout forwards Zavier Lucero (62.0 SPs) and Tamayo (57.64), and the Green Archers’ rising star Mike Phillips (54.64).

Tamayo, 21, edged out Phillips for the top rookie honors.

The Talisay City, Cebu-born Tamayo became the first UP Rookie of the Year winner since Juan Gomez de Liaño in 2017.

The scores:

Ateneo (69) — Kouame 14, Tio 14, Ildefonso 10, Mamuyac 7, Belangel 6, Koon 6, Verano 4, Lazaro 3, Andrade 3, Chiu 2, Daves 0.
UP (66) — Tamayo 18, Rivero 16, Cagulangan 8, Lucero 8, Diouf 8, Alarcon 5, Spencer 3, Fortea 0, Abadiano 0, Lina 0.
Quarterscores: 17-16, 37-28, 49-45, 69-66