Eagles clutch another crown

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The highly-anticipated Game 2 between Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines (UP) turned out to be a Thirdy Ravena show.

The do-it-all Blue Eagles forward delivered the highest output in a finals game in 15 years and towed his team to a lopsided 99-81 win to sweep the Fighting Maroons for their 10th title in University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) on Wednesday at the jampacked Araneta Coliseum.

“I thanked the players. They are marvelous and they are a joy to work with. I feel blessed to work with them,” said Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin, who tabbed his second straight UAAP title.

Ravena, who at one time failed to make the team due to academics, put on a shooting clinic and schooled every UP player thrown at him to finish with a career-high 38 points on an efficient 13-of-18 shooting from the field.

Majority of his points came in the second half when the Fighting Maroons supporters were praying for one last push and even chanting “Atin ‘to!” despite their team trailing double digits.

“I can’t describe the feeling. We gave our all and helped each other. We know UP won’t back down and just give the victory to us. Props to UP community also,” said Ravena, adjudged the Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the second straight time.

Angelo Koumae, Rookie of the Year of Season 81, was also huge for Ateneo with 22 points and 20 rebounds, easily outclassing the season Most Valuable Player (MVP) Bright Akhuetie.

Akhuetie had a better offensive game with 19 points but his defensive presence was missing throughout the game.

Juan Gomez de Liano led the Fighting Maroons with 24 points while Paul Desiderio, the hero in UP’s Final Four win over Adamson to end a 32-year finals drought, added 15 markers in his final game for the Diliman-based squad.

Ateneo, which had a scary 88-79 win in Game 1, was on target from the get go and behind the 17 points from Ravena, the Blue Eagles built a 48-37 halftime lead.

There was no let up from the defending champions after the break and with Ravena and Raffy Verano joining forces, Ateneo built a 59-41 lead with 6:16 left in the third period.

UP had no answer to those blows as the Blue Eagles erected their biggest at 22 points on Matt Nieto’s basket, 81-59, six minutes left in the contest.

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