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Best yet to come for Eagles after dominant win over Maroons

MANILA, Philippines — Two games. Two blowout wins. And if you watched the Ateneo Blue Eagles take down their Katipunan neighbors, the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 92-71, you got the feeling that they still haven’t played that perfect game.

Here are our thoughts about that game.

What a debut for Tyler Tio.

That was an explosive debut for Tyler Tio, who scored 14 points. His explosion to start the fourth period hiked an 11-point lead to 19 as he scored on eight straight points to take the wind out of the sails of UP.

Tyler missed the first game with an ankle injury. Was iffy for the game against UP because of some pain and yet he played superb. Didn’t miss a shot. 6-6 from the field including two treys plus two assists (zero turnovers) in 11 minutes.

When was the last time we saw a great debut for a Blue Eagle?

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Ryan Buenafe finished with 8 points.

Kiefer Ravena shockingly didn’t score a point.

Greg Slaughter, technically not a rookie, but in his Ateneo debut finished with 23 points — a win over a very good Adamson team.

Of course, we have to check the numbers of Jun Reyes, Danny Francisco, Richie Ticzon, Vince Hizon, Rich Alvarez, Magnum Membrere and LA Tenorio to name a few.

But I guess, in recent memory, Tio has had one of those great debuts.

As we have seen for a while now (yes, I was watching him in high school play alongside Isaac Go, Kyles Lao, and Jarrell Lim in Xavier at the MMBL tourneys), he’s displayed a steadiness, a shiftiness and great vision. Excellent handles too.

Thirdy Ravena is finding consistency; Ditto with Chib Ikeh

Incredibly, not one Blue Eagle finished in double-digit scoring last season. Ravena did lead the team with 9.6 points and 7.4 rebounds.

In two matches this Season 80, he’s doubled the output to 18.0 points and hauled 8.0 rebounds a game.

He isn’t the only one to raise his numbers. Chibueze Ikeh finished with identical 5.2 averages in scoring and rebounding last season. This year it is up to 13.5 points and 12.0 rebounds.

The Big Fella had another solid outing. He didn’t play much as the Blue Eagles were superb all around. I have no problem with his 3-point attempt as he does that from time to time. Besides, he took it in one motion and with a low of confidence. I immediately glanced at Tab Baldwin and he didn’t show any sign of disgust or what.

Aaron Black played one of his best games in a while

Nine points, 10 rebounds, plus 3 assists? Not bad. He was very active all over the court. Hopefully, this sees him break out of his shell.

Solid offensive rebounding

The activity, the willingness to battle inside the paint, the conditioning. Good to see the Blue Eagles playing tough inside. The 18 offensive rebounds saw them post a whopping 31 second chance points against UP.

Against Adamson, they scored 29 second chance points to the Falcons’ six. UP finished with seven.

The superb bench mob.

Not since the five-peat teams has Ateneo have a deep bench. Coach Tab Baldwin fielded all 16 players. Only Jawaun White did not register a single point, rebound, assist, steal and block (he did have one turnover). But everyone else added something. That gives confidence to everyone that almost everyone is seeing playing time. Just wait until White gets going.

The defensive work on Paul Desiderio

UP’s main man finished with nine points. He scored two points in the first, three in the second, and four in the third but was held scoreless in the fourth. He shot a poor 22 percent from the field.

What does Ateneo need to work on?

Limit turnovers. They still commit turnovers – two in a span of two minutes.

Not losing concentration in certain moments of the game.

What does UP need to work on?

Playing a better team game. Too much pro-style one-on-one basketball.

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