By Ernesto Nodado III

PHOTO: Inquirer Sports

Gian Mamuyac bolstered through the third period, propelling the undefeated Ateneo Blue Eagles from a lackluster start to a dominating 94-72 win over the gritty UE Red Warriors inside Mall of Asia Arena, Thursday.

The Blue Eagles team captain fired a career-high 21 points and nine rebounds, pacing his crew in the third quarter after a head-scratching showing against the winless UE in the first half that saw both teams finish on deadlocks for two quarters.

Mamuyac, deciding to take matters into his own hands, wreaked havoc midway through the third frame with an explosive 13-point spree, paving the way for Ateneo's second-half assault.

Ange Kouame also provided huge numbers with a double-double performance of 21 points and 13 rebounds while being a defensive nightmare with four blocks.

This victory held Ateneo firm on top with a 6-0 record, while in reverse, UE remained blank on their win column by sliding to 0-6.

The Katipunan-based squad struggled to assert dominance from the get-go before a winless UE squad, trailing to a 15-10 lead but managed to even it before the quarter ended at 15-all.

The Blue Eagles got their bearings with a 24-18 lead in the second quarter, off from a 5-0 run courtesy of Dave Ildefonso and SJ Belangel, who finished with 12 points apiece.

But hefty perimeter shooting from Harvey Pagsanjan and Kyle Paranada halted the defending champions to fly with a comfortable cushion going into halftime, forcing still an even match, 39-all.

With Mamuyac's heroics in the third, Ateneo zoomed to a 65-55 lead at the end of the quarter, pulling away from UE.

The Red Warriors never got their groove back as Ateneo widened the gap in the fourth quarter, breezing towards another unscathed performance. 

Kyle Paranada and Pagsanjan carried the fight for the valiant Red Warriors with both 15 markers.

On Saturday, UE will face the NU Bulldogs (3-3) at noon for a chance to finally book their first win of the season while Ateneo will try to extend their winning streak at 4 pm against the UST Growling Tigers (2-4).

Edited by Jostle Pilayre