Blue Eagles bounce back for 2-1 lead
MANILA, Philippines — Motivated by a painful defeat in its last game, Cignal-Ateneo came back with a vengeance against Centro Escolar U, flaunting its might with a 67-52 Game 3 victory to move on the cusp of bagging the PBA D-League crown yesterday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Skipper Thirdy Ravena posted 12 points, eight rebounds and a steal to lead the Ateneo attack while Ivorian slotman Ange Koaume did his share on the defensive end with a game-high nine blocks on top of 10 markers, seven rebounds and two steals.
Adrian Wong and Mike Nieto chipped in nine points apiece while newly-crowned D-League Most Valuable Player Isaac Go contributed five markers and five boards in limited action coming off a one-game absence due to an ailment in Game 2.
Ateneo took a 2-1 lead in this best-of-five titular showdown with a chance to finish off the Scorpions and bag the prestigious semi-pro title on Tuesday at the same venue.
“We wanted to get back at them this game. Our preparation was just not looking past this game and the next other games. We made sure that we’re present in this game, mentally and physically,” said head coach Sandy Arespacochaga, referring to their mental collapse in Game 2 en route to a forgettable 74-77 loss.
“We’re happy that we bounced back and improved on our adjustments from last game.”
Pressured by its eagerness to vent its ire on the Scorpions right away, the sloppy Blue Eagles actually found it hard to shrug off their foes with just a precarious 32-27 lead at the half.
But Ateneo finally got over the hump in the third period bridging the early goings of the final canto where they outscored CEU, 21-10, to erect a comfortable 53-37 upperhand with only 8:18 to go.
The Blue Eagles, however, still had to wait before securing the win as league officials momentarily halted the match due to a leaking roof caused by heavy rainfall.
After the stoppage, Ateneo pounced on the hapless CEU with a quick 13-2 blast to run away with the biggest lead of the ball game at 65-39 on its way to a dominating victory.
On the other hand, Senegalese big man Maodo Malick Diouf put up 19 points, 20 rebounds and three steals to serve as the only bright spot for the Scorpions who failed to follow up their stunning win in Game Two.