MANILA -- Ateneo finally scored a sweep in the UAAP men's basketball eliminations after dealing University of the Philippines yet another bludgeoning through an, 86-64, win in the last game of the regular season at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Although the Fighting Maroons kept the game close and even held a 21-20 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Blue Eagles pulled away with a 25-11 second quarter and a 20-12 third quarter shove.
Ange Kouame made 20 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, five blocks, and one steal for Ateneo, which finally completed the sweep for the first time after five 13-1 seasons within the last 10 years.
SJ Belangel added 14 points, three rebounds, and two assists off the bench as his team won 24 straight games dating back from last season.
With the sweep, Ateneo clinched the first finals berth outright and forced the stepladder playoffs for the other finals seat.
The team will get to play again on Nov. 16 in Game 1 of the best-of-three championship.
Kobe Paras tallied 13 markers, seven boards, two dimes, one steal, and two blocks for UP, which despite the loss will enter the playoffs as the second seed, meaning a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals.
UP will also get a breather and will only play on Nov. 10 against the winner of the Nov. 6 playoff between University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University.
ATENEO 86 -- Kouame 20, Belangel 14, Navarro 13, Ravena 11, Go 7, Ma. Nieto 7, Mamuyac 5, Tio 4, Maagdenberg 3, Mi. Nieto 2, Andrade 0, Chiu 0, Daves 0, Mallillin 0, Wong 0.
UP 64 -- Paras 13, Akhuetie 11, Ja. Gomez de Liano 11, Ju. Gomez de Liano 9, Tungcab 5, Jaboneta 4, Rivero 4, Manzo 2, Murrell 2, Webb 2, Mantilla 1, Prado 0, Spencer 0.
Quarters: 20-21, 45-32, 65-44, 86-44. (PNA)