Ateneo takes down rival La Salle in UAAP Season 84 duel

Ange Kouame challenges the La Salle frontcourt (UAAP S84 Media Team)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Ateneo Blue Eagles showed they are still the team to beat in the ongoing UAAP Season 84 seniors’ men’s basketball after crushing their rival squad De La Salle University Green Archers, 74-57, to stay undefeated with a 3-0 record.

It was an expected nip-and-tuck affair with both teams going at it in a highly-physical clash but a huge run from Ateneo in the third quarter allowed them to have a comfortable lead.

“Tough game. It was never comfortable until the end. The defense was solid in the game as was theirs,” said Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin.

La Salle forced things to go their way as they battled the Ateneo swingmen with all their might until the last five minutes of the third frame when the Blue Eagles ballooned their lead to 13, 56-43.

Ange Kouame was once again an unstoppable force for Ateneo as he torched the entire Green Archers squad with another monster double-double performance of 16 points and 19 rebounds.

Former Hua Siong Iloilo superstar Mark Nonoy’s offensive spree helped La Salle stay within striking distance but his 12 points weren’t enough to match the Blue Eagles’ firepower.

Ateneo’s balanced attack through their sweet motion offense was again on full display as small forward Dave Ildefonso backstopped Kouame with 12 points while guard Gian Mamuyac chipped in 11 points.

“I think both teams played themselves to a standstill. It was a great Ateneo-La Salle game. We are looking forward to NU this Tuesday. It doesn’t get easier,” added coach Baldwin.

Gilas Pilipinas young stalwart Justine Baltazar of the Green Archers struggled from the field and was only limited to five points on 2/10 shooting from the field.

The huge win against the Green Archers kept the Blue Eagles’ UAAP basketball winning streak to 30 games since absorbing their last loss in October 2018 against the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws.