DLSU sweeps Ateneo to seize second title in four years
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Dec 07, 2016 06:17 PM
CHAMPIONSHIP, NOT BUST. DLSU lived up to expectations with the championship and an overall record of 17-1 in the season.
De La Salle University got tripped once in the UAAP 79 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Still, the Green Archers kept marching forward toward their final destination.
And now, after getting the better of archrival Ateneo de Manila University, 79-72, on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum, DLSU has finally reached the promised land for the ninth time in school history.
With championship-or-bust hanging over their heads even before the season started, the fully-loaded Archers have now fulfilled their promise. “We just embraced the pressure all season long,” a beaming coach Aldin Ayo said.
In doing so, the Taft-based team also granted Jeron Teng, Jason Perkins, Julian Sargent, and Thomas Torres the opportunity to go out with a bang.
Teng was nothing but determined from the get-go and scored 19 of his 28 points in the first two quarters. It was he who fronted the 14-5 push that morphed a three-point cushion into a 39-27 advantage.
However, the Blue Eagles kept coming and the Nieto twins pulled them to within 69-73 inside the last two minutes only to see the DLSU’s graduating captain hook up with Ben Mbala for all of the points in their 6-3 finishing kick.
In the end, Teng was again the star of the show with 28 points and three rebounds. Coupling this power performance with his big-time plays in Game 1, he was the undoubted Finals MVP.
Just like he has throughout the tournament, Season MVP Mbala had his usual 18-point, 10-rebound double-double to help the Archers live up to expectations.
Losing just once through 17 games in the tournament, DLSU completed one of the most dominant campaigns in the history of the league. Talking about if he would have wanted a season sweep, Ayo said, “Actually, ‘di ko na nga iniisip yun. Gusto ko lang talagang manalo because of the support of the whole La Salle community.”
The sweep of the championship round also avenged the Archers’ first and only loss in the season at the hands of the Blue Eagles.
Ateneo failed to replicate their feat in the elimination round despite the best efforts of Mike Nieto who had 18 points. Nonetheless, their runner-up finish is still an improvement from a season ago.
DLSU 79 – Teng 28, Mbala 18, Montalbo 9, Melecio 7, Caracut 5, Perkins 4, Torres 3, Tratter 2, Rivero P 2, Sargent 1
ATENEO 72 – Nieto Mi 18, Wong 10, Verano 10, Asistio 9, Go 8, Ikeh 6, Nieto Ma 4, Ravena 3, Black 2, Tolentino 2, Porter 0, Babilonia 0
QUARTER SCORES: 22-16, 45-35, 59-52, 79-72
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.