By Drew Malihan
MANILA – Ateneo de Manila’s SJ Belangel stepped up to the occasion as the Blue Eagles defeated the San Beda Red Lions, 83-69, in the 2020 PCCL NCAA-UAAP Challenge at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City on Saturday night.
Belangel scored 25 points in 18 minutes off the bench with a 5-of-6 clip from deep, along with two rebounds and five assists to give Ateneo their first win of 2020.
Blue Eagle rookie Dwight Ramos debuted for the senior team with 12 points while shooting 55 percent from the field and 2-of-3 from threes.
William Navarro led the Eagles to a hot start, 10-4, but six straight points from James Kwekuteye evened the match for the Red Lions.
It was up to Matthew Daves and Troy Mallillin to close the first quarter 16-12 for the Katipunan boys.
Coach Tab Baldwin’s side started the second period with a 10-0 run anchored by Belangel’s five points in just a minute.
San Beda answered with their own 6-0 run midway through the quarter with Calvin Oftana scoring a three and a layup to put the Mendiola-based team within eight.
Belangel and Ange Kouame teamed up to aid Ateneo and establish a 37-26 lead in their favor at halftime.
Kwekuteye and John Bryle Bahio combined for 13 San Beda points in the third, with the latter scoring eight in the process despite the presence or Kouame in the painted area.
Belangel and Ramos however continue to widen the space between the two teams, combining for 12 points in the period, with a Matthew Daves – Geo Chiu connection ending the third 57-44 for Ateneo.
Freddie Abuda came alive with six straight points to start the fourth for San Beda, including an and-1 play at the cost of Ateneo’s Jose Credo.
But Ateneo’s reliable role players in Gian Mamuyac and Matthew Daves prevent the Red Lions to get near less than 10 points, despite Cuntapay adding to the scoring options for San Beda.
Point guard Tyler Tio led the Katipunan-based team on putting the finishing touches for Ateneo, getting five points in less than three minutes of the game and eventually closing the game for Ateneo within 14.
Ateneo will try to make it 2-0 in a rematch of the UAAP Finals against UST on Sunday, while San Beda look to bounce back with an NCAA Finals rematch against tormentors Letran.
Ateneo (83) - Belangel 25, D. Ramos 12, Kouame 8, Navarro 7, Mallillin 7, Mamuyac 6, Daves 6, Tio 5, Andrade 3, Credo 2, Chiu 2, P. Maagdenberg 0, Berjay 0.
San Beda (69) - Kweku-Teye 11, Oftana 11, Penuela 11, Bahio 10, Abuda 9, Cuntapay 7, Cariño 7, Villejo 2, Visser 1, Etrata 0, Alfaro 0, Fornis 0, Ejercito 0.
Quarterscores: 16-12, 37-26, 57-44, 83-69
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