Ateneo de Manila University completed a historic 16-0 sweep of the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament and in the process earning its second Grand Slam as they repulsed the University of Santo Tomas (UST), 86-79, in Game 2 of the Finals Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
There is no denying the crown for the Blue Eagles, as a vaunted balanced attack from inside and out, from the offensive and defensive end, overpowered the “mayhem” approach of the fouth-seed Growling Tigers.
Finals Most Valuable Player Thirdy Ravena led the Blue Eagles with 17 points, seven rebounds, and five assists but it was sophomore SJ Belangel who rescued the team, firing three triples in the second half, when UST was rallying to steal Game 2.
“Sa team na ito, walang nag-iisang star player, basta lahat kami nagko-contribute,” Belangel, who added 15 points off five triples, said after the game.
Helping him is graduating point guard Matt Nieto added 14 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Dominating the entire second half, the Blue Eagles found trouble in the third quarter when UST’s blue chip recruits—Rhenz Abando and Mark Nonoy—conspired for a 30-point explosion in the third quarter to trim the deficit by as much as three.
However, Belangel hit back-to-back triples at the tailend of the quarter to end it with a five-point cushion for Ateneo.
The Tigers attacked at the start of the fourth quarter with drives from CJ Cansino Dave Ando to trim the deficit at 66-67, but that was UST’s last hurrah as Belangel again sank two triples.
The Blue Eagles then bullied the hobbled Tigers in the shaded lane, with Ravena and Ange Kouame conspiring for an 8-0 run midway in the quarter for an 83-71 lead that was never squandered.
Rookie of the Year Nonoy once again led the Growling Tigers with 14 points, but it was a far cry from his 26-point performance in game one.
Ateneo becomes the third team in UAAP men’s basketball history to have completed a season sweep, which was last done by the Growling Tigers in 1993 and the Far Eastern University in 1980. It is also their second grand slam, which they did previously when they won five straight from 2008 to 2012.
“The record speaks for itself, this is a team that pursued excellence every step of the way. Certainly a 16-0 record speaks of excellence,” said head coach and Grand Slam architect Tab Baldwin.