NO SWEEP! Ateneo stuns DLSU, 83 - 71

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 05, 2016 06:50 PM
NO SWEEP! Ateneo stuns DLSU, 83 - 71
THERE'S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING. Ateneo became the first team to solve DLSU, their archrivals, in the UAAP 79 Men's Basketball Tournament.

It has always been said that records and rankings don’t mean anything when it comes to rivalry games like Ateneo de Manila University-De La Salle University.

That was certainly the case on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum as the Blue Eagles got the better of the erstwhile perfect Green Archers, 83-71.

Not only did Ateneo avoid getting swept by their archrivals, they also dealt DLSU its first defeat in the UAAP 79 Men’s Basketball Tournament. “La Salle’s still the number one team, but I guess that’s the beauty of this rivalry. In Ateneo-La Salle, standings don’t matter,” coach Sandy Arespacochaga expressed.

Looking at the bigger picture, the Eagles’ seventh win in 11 games also ensures that there will be a Final Four.

The intense matchup had the two teams dead even at 12 early on before Matt Nieto and Anton Asistio sparked a 9-1 charge that pushed Ateneo ahead, 21-13.

Belying their youth, the Eagles showed composure for the remainder of the game even in the face of the Archers’ inevitable rally. As Arespacochaga put it, “They are a very tough team, but we told our players to be mentally tough. We’re very happy that we’re seeing our team growing before our eyes.”

Ben Mbala’s thunderous throwdown punctuated that rally and pulled DLSU to within three points. However, that proved to be already the highest of highs for them as Ateneo quickly countered with 12 unanswered points to re-establish a 54-43 advantage.

The Eagles’ lead bloated to as big at 76-58 courtesy of back-to-back hits by Aaron Black. The Archers didn’t quit just yet and last threatened at 71-79 with 20 ticks to go, but by then, it was too late.

Indeed, Ateneo’s team effort was in full effect as four of their players were in double-digits. Aaron Black topped the scoring column with 16 points, turning in his best game of the season.

At the other end, the Eagles limited DLSU’s league-leading offense to a season-low in points. “We wanted to make sure that no matter what happens, we have to play good defense,” Arespacochaga said.

The combination of Isaac Go, Chibueze Ikeh, and G-Boy Babilonia then shackled Mbala to only, for his high standards, 17 points and 15 rebounds to go along with seven turnovers. “They really put the effort in. they battled La Salle on the boards and it’s not a very easy thing to do,” Arespacochaga said.

For the Archers, Jeron Teng showed the way with 18 points. Unable to enforce “mayhem” for the first time, however, they also lost for the first time to fall back to a 12-1 standing.

BOX SCORES

ATENEO 83 – Black 16, Nieto Ma 15, Wong 11, Go 10, Asistio 9, Verano 6, Ravena 4, Tolentino 4, Nieto Mi 4, Mendoza 4, Ikeh 0, Babilonia 0

DLSU 71 – Teng 18, Mbala 17, Melecio 11, Montalbo 6, Caracut 6, Rivero P 4, Perkins 3, Torres 3, Tratter 3, Go 0, Rivero R 0, Baltazar 0, Sargent 0

QUARTER SCORES: 23-16, 44-36, 61-50, 83-71

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