The Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles get their long-awaited shot at redemption as they booked a ticket to the UAAP Season 85 Finals with a dominant 81-60 win over the Adamson Soaring Falcons on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
This will be the sixth straight season that the Blue Eagles have made the finals. More importantly, it gives them a shot at their cross-street rivals, the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, which beat them for the Season 84 crown earlier this year.
Game One of the best-of-three championship series will be on Sunday, 6 p.m. at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
"We had our best offensive performance of the year. I think when you get some time to prepare and your opponent doesn't have much time and they were playing on heart, they were playing on Nash's brain, and all of those things they have a ton of," said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.
"But the cauldron of the semifinals you need more than that you need time to prepare, you need rest, and you need a full team hitting on all cylinders and tonight we were that team," continued Baldwin.
Already ahead by eight early in the third period, Dave Ildefonso scored eight straight points before Ange Kouame and Chris Koon connived to end the quarter with 19 unanswered points and give Ateneo a 27-point advantage heading into the fourth, 63-36.
PAREF Springdale product Sean Quitevis then opened the payoff frame with another trey to put the Blue Eagles up by 30 with 9:14 left, 66-36, before Jed Colonia made the Soaring Falcons' first basket in nine minutes with 8:30 to go. Jerom Lastimosa last scored on a layup at the 7:27 mark of the third.
Forthsky Padrigao had 16 points and five assists, while Koon was 4-of-5 from deep to end with 15 points to go with five assists and a plus-21 in his 19 minutes on the floor.
Kai Ballungay chimed in 13 points, while Ildefonso had 11 points and nine rebounds.
Lastimosa was the lone Falcon in double figures with 10 points on a woeful 4-of-15 shooting from the field.