Ateneo takes back UAAP title after staving off UP comeback

Ateneo is back on top of the UAAP ladder. UAAP Season 85 Media Team
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—The "Battle of Katipunan" supremacy is back in Loyola Heights.

Ateneo reclaimed the UAAP men's basketball title after nipping the University of the Philippines, 75-68, in the rubber match of their championship series on Monday night in front of 21,814 fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Blue Eagles sizzled early on thanks to their hot three-point shooting, but they still had to survive a scare from the Fighting Maroons in the endgame to win their 12th championship since joining the league in 1977.

Ateneo banked on its solid perimeter game to open a 30-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.

However, as the game progressed further, UP got its offense going and came to as close as three points, 67-70, with 20.1 seconds left.

Harold Alarcon, among those who stepped up for the Fighting Maroons in the absence of the injured Zav Lucero, even came close to getting a steal for a chance to force overtime.

Instead, Alarcon fouled BJ Andrade with 12.3 seconds left, and Andrade nailed two free throws that eventually iced the game for the Blue Eagles.

Ange Kouame led Ateneo, which beat UP to win it all for the second time in their last three Finals showdowns, with 19 points, 12 rebounds, one assist, and four blocks.

Vince Gomez had a career-high 12 points even as Forthsky Padrigao also finished with 12 markers for the Blue Eagles.

James Spencer led UP, which failed to defend its championship against Ateneo last summer, with 14 points, two rebounds, and one assist.

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