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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Why Ateneo is UAAP champ again

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IF the title is on the line, you can’t afford to miss free throws with ridiculous regularity.

That’s what happened to the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons in their championship clash against the Ateneo Blue Eagles on Monday in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball championship.

At one point in the game, the Maroons were 19-of-30 from the line.  It’s almost next to impossible to survive a situation as nightmarish as that.

Bottom line is, because UP kept missing precious charities, its crown sat shaking almost game-long, leading to Ateneo’s 75-68 victory to dethrone the Maroons in their winner-take-all Game 3 before a tumultuous crowd of 22,814 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

UP was turnover-riddled, too, with many errors producing precious Ateneo points.

Passing mistakes made the bulk of UP’s infractions, with Malik Diouf committing several crucial miscues.

In contrast, Diouf’s counterpart, Ange Kouame, was almost error free as Kouame easily earned the Finals’ Most Valuable Player award, recording 19 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in Ateneo’s victory.

It was a fitting ending to the fairy tale saga of Ateneo’s 6-foot-10 find from Africa, who had recently earned a Filipino citizenship ahead of Barangay Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee.

Kouame and Brownlee will combine to help Gilas Pilipinas pin down a decent finish in the Fiba World Cup that we will be co-hosting next year with Japan and Indonesia.

Ateneo immediately took control of the game, erecting a 10-0 lead and then seizing a 30-12 bulge behind five blazing triples.

UP’s last stand was when it rallied to within five points, 62-67, from 12 points down in the fourth with 2:12 left in the game.

But Kouame’s three-point play made it 70-62 with 1:48 to go.

Through some sheer dint of Harold Alarcon’s inventiveness, plus a little luck, the Maroons had one last gasp.

Alarcon intentionally missed the end of his three free throws, grabbed the rebound and sank an off-balanced three from deep left to put UP to within 67-70.

Alas, only 17 seconds remained.  Ateneo simply milked the clock en route to its fourth title in five seasons and 12th UAAP crown overall.

But when all is said and done, the fact of the matter is, UP dug its own grave at the stripe.

THAT’S IT With Argentina’s victory at the expense of defending champion France, Lionel Messi’s legend is now cast in stone.  The World Cup trophy was the only remaining metal to complete Messi’s journey to greatness…Merry Christmas!

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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