UAAP Finals: Ateneo dethrones DLSU for first title since 2012

UAAP Finals: Ateneo dethrones DLSU for first title since '12
It was quite the fitting ending to the season for Ateneo which leaned on total team effort to best archrival DLSU

Ateneo de Manila University has won the championship in the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament – and as always, it has done it by way of total team effort.

Five different players came together in the Blue Eagles’ pivotal 12-2 push that eventually ended as an 88-86 decision at the expense of archrival and now-dethroned champion De La Salle University on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.

It was quite the fitting ending for the season for the Katipunan-based squad which had utilized a total team effort on both ends all the way to the best record at the end elimination round and now, the best standing at the end of the tournament.

The do-or-die Game 3, as expected, was a close contest.

Ben Mbala’s inside basket granted the Green Archers a 68-66 lead early in the final frame before Vince Tolentino, Matt Nieto, Anton Asistio, Chibueze Ikeh, and Thirdy Ravena came together to energize Ateneo to a 12-2 run and an 80-70 lead.

Still, the back-to-back MVP and DLSU weren’t going away and went on a 10-2 charge to pull to within 80-82 with 48.9 ticks to go on the clock.

Off a timeout, however, Ravena found a wide open Isaac Go who then proceeded to launch a long-range missile that proved to be the dagger that drilled right into the hearts of their archrivals.

And not long after, they were celebrating their first championship since the tail-end of their five-peat in 2012.

Like they have done throughout the tournament, the Blue Eagles drew contributions from up and down the lineup. Ravena led the way by stuffing the stat sheet with 17 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals – more than enough for him to be hailed as the Finals MVP.

Ikeh posted his own 12-point, 13-rebound double-double while Nieto chipped in 14 markers of his own.

Go only had seven points, but three of those came from the shot that will be remembered as the icing on the cake that was Ateneo’s mighty rebound from last year’s loss in the Finals.

A year ago, Go and his teammates were swept and were at the wrong end of the Green Archers’ dominant 15-1 championship season.

Now, the Blue Eagles find themselves alone atop the leaderboard.

Mbala paced the Taft-based team with 19 points and 14 rebounds while Aljun Melecio and Ricci Rivero also added 14 and 14 markers, respectively.

With their rally falling short, however, they surrender the crown after a one-season reign.

BOX SCORES

ATENEO 88 — Ravena 17, Ma. Nieto 14, Ikeh 12, Asistio 11, Tolentino 9, Go 7, Verano 6, Mendoza 5, Black 4, Mamuyac 3, Mi. Nieto 0.

DLSU 86 — Mbala 19, Melecio 16, R. Rivero 14, Caracut 13, Santillan 11, Tratter 4, Go 3, Montalbo 3, P. Rivero 2, Tero 1, Baltazar 0.

QUARTER SCORES: 24-14, 45-38, 66-66, 88-86.

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