DLSU comes from behind to end Ateneo’s unbeaten run

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 12, 2017 06:37 PM
DLSU comes from behind to end Ateneo’s unbeaten run
NOT SO FAST. Ben Mbala and DLSU ensured that no one will be automatically advancing into the Finals and there will be a Final Four.

De La Salle University was down by seven with 2:21 remaining on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Ben Mbala and Kib Montalbo weren’t letting that be the end of their elimination round in the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament, however.

The reigning and defending MVP was a force all throughout while the team captain made all the big plays in the endgame as the Green Archers took down erstwhile undefeated Ateneo de Manila University, 79-76.

With the come-from-behind win, DLSU puts the first blemish on the erstwhile spotless slate of their archrivals. “Big win. I have to commend the players for their effort and for sticking to the game plan especially during the endgame,” head coach Aldin Ayo, appearing in his first post-win interview in a while, said.

Much of it was because of Mbala who was all over the floor with 28 points, 19 rebounds, six blocks, and six steals and Montalbo who only had six points, three rebounds, and three assists but steadied the ship in the endgame.

Everything was going right for the Blue Eagles as even a helter-skelter sequence had the ball ending up in the hands of Vince Tolentino for a 76-69 lead with 2:21 remaining.

That would be their last basket, however, as the Green Archers were finally able to enforce their mayhem and caused three straight errors from their opponents which led to six straight points.

Still, they were down by one with under a minute left before Montalbo spun around and sunk a floater that proved to be a go-ahead basket for a 77-76 advantage for his team.

After another defensive stop, it was again the Taft-based team’s captain who collared the rebound.

DLSU was unable to take advantage, but neither was Ateneo as Isaac Go was bothered by Mbala just enough to botch a short stab. “We got lucky in the endgame, especially Isaac Go’s semi-hook. Luckily, it did not go in,” Ayo said.

Not long after, Ricci Rivero’s free throws and block on Anton Asistio’s would have been game-tying three put the finishing touches on an unbelievable comeback. He wound up with 21 points, five rebounds, two steals, and one block.

That unbelievable comeback raised the record of the Green Archers to 12-2 at the end of eliminations.

With that, they ensured that no one will be automatically advancing into the Finals and there will be a Final Four.

There, second-seed DLSU will face off against third-seed Adamson University while top-seed Ateneo will wage war with fourth-seed Atene de Manila University. The archrivals both have a twice-to-beat advantage.

The Blue Eagles were led in this one by Thirdy Ravena who had 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one block.

Matt Nieto chipped in 12 points while Go had 13 points, six rebounds, and five assists.

Unable to close out the contest, however, they will have to try another time to make it through to the Finals.

BOX SCORES

DLSU 79 – Mbala 28, Rivero R 21, Tratter 8, Santillan 7, Melecio 6, Montalbo 6, Go 3, Caracut 0, Rivero P 0, Baltazar 0, Paraiso 0

ATENEO 76 – Ravena 15, Go 13, Nieto Ma 12, Verano 9, Mendoza 7, Asistio 6, Tolentino 6, Ikeh 4, Porter 3, Nieto Mi 1, Mamuyac 0, Black 0

QUARTER SCORES: 17-22, 37-35, 54-63, 79-76

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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