The DLSU Green Archers were unable to halt the ADMU Blue Eagles’ unbeaten run as they lost an electrifying match-up against their archrivals, 76-75, earlier today at the Mall of Asia Arena. The loss gives La Salle a 5-2 win-loss record heading into the second round, leaving the Blue Eagles as the only undefeated team after seven games.
Matt Nieto led the Blue Eagles, scoring 16 points, including the two free throws that clinched the game. Ricci Rivero top scored for the Green Archers with 19 points off the bench, while Ben Mbala was limited to only 18 points and 13 rebounds. Jollo Go was the third player for the Green-and-White to score in double digits with 11 points.
“It’s hard to come back from such a deficit in the first quarter so we definitely have to start strong, start stronger in the next round, yeah,” says Abu Tratter.
Exciting first half
Kib Montalbo started the game with a three-pointer, with just 14 seconds off the game clock. Vince Tolentino and Asistio answered back with a hook shot and a three-pointer, respectively, to give the Blue Eagles an early 5-3 lead. Brent Paraiso made a lay-up to tie the game at five-all, but Ma. Nieto and Asistio unleashed an 8-0 run, with the latter converting two straight three-pointers. Stopping the Ateneans’ run was Prince Rivero, who made a spin-move inside the paint to convert a lay-up and cut the DLSU deficit to six points. Ma. Nieto drilled his first three-pointer of the quarter to extend the lead to nine but Ri. Rivero and Go each made a lay-up to trim the Blue Eagles’ lead to five, 16-11. It was the closest the defending champions could get in the first period as the bench players of Ateneo finished the quarter strong, 28-16, with Jolo Mendoza scoring five points at the end of the first canto.
The second quarter started with the Blue Eagles getting two points after Mbala’s attempt to block Raffy Verano’s shot was ruled as a goaltend. Both teams exchanged baskets throughout the quarter, but the momentum was shifting to the Green Archers’ side as they finished the quarter on an 8-2 run to cut their archrivals’ lead to seven, 43-36, heading into the halftime break.
Asistio led all players at the end of the first half with 13 points, while converting four out of eight attempts from three-point territory. Ri. Rivero led the Green Archers in scoring with nine points off the bench. Mbala had eight points, eight rebounds, and a massive block on Verano to keep the Lasallians afloat.
After their first half struggles, the Green Archers were able to regain their rhythm offensively as they started to claw their way back. The seven-point deficit was cut to a single point by the end of the third period through the collective efforts of the team.
Thirdy Ravena and Ri. Rivero traded baskets to open the half while both teams continued to stay determined and aggressive throughout the quarter. The comeback was highlighted by an Mbala dunk early during the 8:14 mark and a circus lay-up by Ri. Rivero to cap off the 6-0 run, featuring a three-pointer from Andrei Caracut and a free throw from P. Rivero in the quarter’s final minute.
From then on, ADMU only got their remaining points from the charity stripe, while Go made another basket from beyond the arc. A rush of momentum came over the La Salle crowd as Mbala and Go combined for a 5-0 run in the dying seconds of the period that featured a put-back dunk by Mbala and a buzzer beater three-pointer from Go.
The final quarter gave the Lasallians hope to regain the lead. However, consecutive baskets from Isaac Go and Raffy Verano early on extended ADMU’s lead back to five. It was a close fight as both teams were determined to finish each other off.
La Salle continued to push until a tip-in by Tratter from a missed shot by Caracut gave DLSU the lead 73-71 with just three minutes remaining on the clock. Finally, in the last two minutes of the game, Mbala converted two more free throws to take the lead back from the Katipunan-based squad, 75-74. However, ADMU forced a turnover by La Salle, with just four seconds left, on a careless inbound pass by Montalbo, wherein Ma. Nieto was able to get fouled and go to the line. “We just had a mental lapse, we couldn’t find the right open man, and coming into the stretch like that we already have to focus on making sure that the ball gets to the right hands,” Tratter explains.
The point guard then calmly made both free throws, which determined the outcome of the match. Ma. Nieto, was three out of four from the charity stripe and added two steals and assists in the winning effort. La Salle, though, had an opportunity to hit a game-winning basket but Mbala’s shot and Montalbo’s follow up missed.
Despite the disappointing loss, La Salle’s bench contributed a bulk of the scoring as they outscored ADMU’s bench 42-31. DLSU outrebounded ADMU, 46-36, in the game, but they committed nine more turnovers as compared to their rivals from Katipunan. La Salle also failed to make the most of their attempts from the free throw line, as they converted just five of their 13 attempts from the charity stripe.
The Green Archers will attempt to bounce back as they begin their second round with a game against the FEU Tamaraws on October 11, 4 pm, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
DLSU 75- R. Rivero 19, Mbala 18, Go 11, P. Rivero 8, Caracut 5, Paraiso 5, Tratter 4, Montalbo 3, Santillan 2, Gonzales 0
ADMU 76- Ma. Nieto 16, Asistio 14, Mendoza 10, Ravena 9, Verano 6, Go 4, Tolentino 4, Mi. Nieto 4, Black 4, Mamuyac 3, Ikeh 2
Quarter scores: 16-28, 36-43, 62-63, 75-76