The Ateneo Blue Eagles are at the cusp of making history as being the only team to go undefeated in a full season if they’ll finish their finals series against the UST Growling Tigers this Wednesday.
The Tab Baldwin-coached squad drew first blood in their best-of-three series, and they did it in dominating fashion especially when Thirdy Ravena erupted for 32 points, five rebounds, and three assists en route to their 91-77 win.
While Mark Nonoy led the way with 26 points for UST, Ateneo was able to make life difficult for Rhenz Abando as he only scored three points.
With both head coaches plotting their moves to try and win Game 2, it should be interesting to see how their chess match will unfold.
But first, allow FOX Sports Philippines to look into the key factors that can seal the three-peat for the Blue Eagles.
Continue to limit Rhenz Abando
Much of UST’s success can be attributed to Rhenz Abando’s play on both ends, and for sure he’ll be aching to bounce back in Game 2 on Wednesday after scoring only three points the last time around.
With that said, Ateneo should continue to push through with their game plan which is to make him uncomfortable on offense. Tab Baldwin’s roster is deep enough to put different bodies to stick with the high-flying swingman just like they did on the first game.
Angelo Kouame should win his matchup against Soulemane Chabi Yo
Angelo Kouame was instrumental for Ateneo’s Game 1 win by posting a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds. Not only did he outproduce his foreign counterpart, but he also did his job well in manning the interior for the Blue Eagles.
The Ivory Coast native was a big presence inside the paint against UST. He used his length and heft well to finish inside while deterring various shot attempts by the Growling Tigers.
He may have to do that once again in order for Ateneo to seal their three-peat bid.
Who will be the unsung hero this time for Ateneo?
It’s fair to say that we can expect a similar performance out of Thirdy Ravena in Game 2, but it remains to be seen on which role player will step up for Tab Baldwin in the next game.
In Game 1, it was SJ Belangel who emerged as a viable option for Ateneo. The combo guard provided help on the defensive end and he knocked down some outside shots en route to his 12 points.
Gian Mamuyac and Will Navarro chipped in nine and six, and they should produce much of the same in Game 2.
However, I’m looking at Matt Nieto to score more than five points on Wednesday. The heady playmaker should is expected to be a big boost on offense if he gets it going from the perimeter. He should also make his presence felt on defense to try and limit Mark Nonoy as well.