Dave Ildefonso and SJ Belangel took turns in helping Ateneo secure its 11th straight win after routing National University, 89-75, in the UAAP Season 84 men's basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City Saturday, April 23.
Ildefonso set the pace in the first half before Belangel extended a helping hand in the third quarter as the Blue Eagles rolled to their 37th consecutive win since October 2018.
With the victory, Ateneo has sealed a twice-to-beat advantage with three games remaining left in the elimination round. Without a sweep, the No. 2 team will also be granted another twice-to-beat bonus.
"It's a really good win," said Eagles head coach Tab Baldwin. "We played an exceptionally tough team as I'm sure everybody saw in the second half but I think our quality of play in the first half was as high standard as maybe I've ever seen from an Ateneo team.
"At both ends of the floor, I thought the boys did an exceptional job. They gave themselves a huge cushion," added the three-time UAAP champion coach.
The Bulldogs attempted a late comeback attempt in the fourth period after dropping an 18-3 run and cut their early 33-point deficit to 14, 81-67.
But Ateneo clamped down on defense and converted as many baskets as it can to maintain the 14-point advantage down the stretch highlighted by Belangel's three-pointer.
Ildefonso led all scorers with 17 points built on five triples along with nine rebounds, three assists, Ange Kouame had 16 points, while Belangel finished with nine points and seven assists.
Earlier, Ateneo waxed as early as the first quarter and uncorked a 29-12 run behind the efforts of Ildefonso, Geo Chiu, and Gian Mamuyac.
Janjan Felicilda spearheaded the Bulldogs with 12 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Jake Figueroa added 12 points and three rebounds while John Lloyd Clemente chipped in 10 points, six rebounds, and three assists for NU.
Ateneo shoots for its 12 straight win on Tuesday, April 26 against Adamson in their 4:30 p.m. encounter while NU hopes to escape its skid against the struggling University of Santo Tomas at 7 p.m.
ATENEO 89 -- Ildefonso 17, Kouame 16, Belangel 9, Chiu 9, Verano 8, Mamuyac 8, Andrade 6, Tio 6, Koon 5, Lazaro 5, Padrigao 0, Gomez 0, Daves 0.
NU 75 -- Felicilda 12, Figueroa 12, Clemente 10, Gaye 9, Ildefonso 7, Torres 7, Minerva 5, Malonzo 4, Mahinay 4, Galinato 3, Joson 2, Enriquez 0, Manansala 0, Yu 0.
Quarterscores: 29-12, 61-36, 78-49, 89-75.