Ateneo de Manila University denied University of the Philippines, 65-55, to send the UAAP Season 85 men's basketball Finals to a do-or-die Game Three on Wednesday in front of 20,616 fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Kai Ballungay bounced back from a scoreless Game One with 15 points on a 7-of-10 clip from the field, while Ange Kouame feasted with 19 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and three steals.
"We lived to fight another day. Both of these teams, our monickers are something about fighting. Everybody saw what sports fighting is about tonight," said Blue Eagles head coach Tab Baldwin.
"That's the kind of game that we all sort of expect in the Finals," he continued.
Ateneo led by as much as 15 with 6:11 left in the match after a Kouame layup but the Fighting Maroons fought back.
Carl Tamayo made five straight points on a triple and a mid-range jumper, while Terrence Fortea converted from deep as well to bring UP back within single digit with 4:46 to go, 54-63.
But the rest of the way, the Fighting Maroons only managed a point off a Tamayo split from the line.
Zavier Lucero left the game at the 8:31 mark of the fourth frame after his left knee buckled. He did not return to the game, finishing with six points and 11 rebounds.
Forthsky Padrigao added 11 points on 14 shots and seven rebounds but made no assists, while Geo Chiu and Matthew Daves gave some welcome contributions of six points apiece for Ateneo.
Tamayo had 15 points for UP while JD Cagulangan chimed in 11 points.
The Blue Eagles and the Fighting Maroons duke it out for all the marbles on Monday, Dec. 19 at 6 pm at the Big Dome.
UP took Game One with a tight 72-66 victory with Zavier Lucero producing 14 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks.
Ateneo 65 -- Kouame 19, Ballungay 15, Padrigao 11, Daves 6, Chiu 6, Ildefonso 3, Gomez 2, Lazaro 2, Koon 1, Quitevis 0, Andrade 0.
UP 55 -- Tamayo 15, Cagulangan 11, Fortea 9, Lucero 6, Alarcon 5, Abadiano 4, Diouf 2, Galinato 2, Spencer 1, Gonzales 0, Calimag 0, Lina 0.
Quarters: 20-19, 41-33, 57-44, 65-55.