By: Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
ATENEO Blue Eagles capped off a masterful second half to survive a young and pesky FEU Tamaraws, 65-55, in the second round of the 2019 UAAP Men’s basketball.
For the first time this season, the Blue Eagles were down double-digits and were in serious trouble.
Ljay Gonzales and Brandrey Bienes started the Tamaraw assault in the first half as they sank trey after trey, including tough and contested ones.
With momentum on FEU’s side, it sparked their other members to join the party, slicing and dicing in the shaded area including several floaters converted in front of the outstretched arms of Ateneo tower Ange Kouame.
Down 29-40 at the half, coach Tab Baldwin shifted gears at the start of the third, applying full-court press from start to finish to wear out the young core of the FEU squad that eventually led to some turnover points for the defending champs that helped them inch closer in the game.
The Blue Eagle’s astonishing display on defense enabled the team to get their footing and settle down on their offensive sets.
Thirdy Ravena began hitting open jumpers and Kouame began operating in the block that led to an Ateneo scoring frenzy to erase FEU’s lead.
Ateneo’s defensive mastery limited the Tamaraws’ offense to only 15 points the whole second half, seven points in the third and eight in the last canto.