Ateneo sweeps first round after solving DLSUís Ďmayhemí anew
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 08, 2017 06:14 PM
DISCIPLINE. Ateneo's discipline got the better of DLSU's "mayhem."
Ateneo de Manila University has been leaning on discipline, tireless effort, and team play to stay ahead in the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
All of those were in full display yet again on Sunday at the MOA Arena as the Blue Eagles had all the answers for their archrival De La Salle University, 76-75.
The Green Archers tried their best to make “mayhem” happen only to see Ateneo stay disciplined, full of effort, and together. “It was an Ateneo-La Salle game that a lot of people expected. It was a very tough game,” coach Sandy Arespacochaga said.
With everybody from Matt Nieto to Anton Asistio and from Thirdy Ravena to Raffy Verano giving their all, the Blue Eagles swooped into a place alone atop the leaderboard at the end of the first round.
After Ben Mbala granted them a one-point lead with under a minute remaining, all the defending champions had to do was inbound the ball and wait to be fouled.
Kib Montalbo failed to find Andrei Caracut, however, and had his pass tipped onto the other side of the court.
There, Gian Mamuyac saved the ball right into the hands of Matt Nieto. Seconds later, the latter coolly converted a couple of charities that would prove to be the difference between the archrivals. “We credit the players that in the final minutes, they followed the defensive scheme. We came up with that steal that led to the (game-winning) opportunity,” Arespacochaga said.
DLSU still had 3.6 seconds for a game-winner, but Mbala found himself surrounded by three defenders. He was unable to put up a shot as time expired.
In the end, Matt Nieto continued his season-long brilliance with 16 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals in this one. Included there was the game-changing steal that led to the game-winning points.
Backstopping him were fellow guards Anton Asistio and Jolo Mendoza who scored 14 and 10 points, respectively.
On defense, total team effort slowed down reigning and defending MVP Mbala to only, for his standards, 18 points and 13 rebounds while also suffocating team captain Montalbo to just three points in 13 percent shooting to go along with five turnovers.
In sweeping the first round, Ateneo continues to pace the tournament, but is also well aware that all is far from over.
Meanwhile, the Green Archers go back to the drawing board after suffering their second setback in the season. Ricci Rivero’s breakout performance of 19 points, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals just fell short of leading them to victory.
Still, the 5-2 standing is good for a share of the second spot.
ATENEO 76 – Nieto Ma 16, Asistio 14, Mendoza 10, Ravena 9, Verano 6, Go 4, Tolentino 4, Nieto Mi 4, Black 4, Mamuyac 3, Ikeh 2
DLSU 75 – Rivero R 19, Mbala 18, Go 11, Rivero P 8, Caracut 5, Paraiso 5, Tratter 4, Montalbo 3, Santillian 2, Gonzales 0
QUARTER SCORES: 28-16, 43-36, 63-62, 76-75
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.