In Season 80’s deciding game, the DLSU Green Archers succumbed to the ADMU Blue Eagles, 88-86, earlier today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. A dagger three-pointer from Isaac Go with only 24 seconds left in the game sealed the win for Ateneo. The big man stopped La Salle’s 10-1 run after hitting a spot-up basket from behind the arc off an assist from Thirdy Ravena.
Ben Mbala and Aljun Melecio led the charge for DLSU. The MVP scored 19 points while Melecio had 16 points and made three three-point baskets in the losing effort.
Ravena, on the other hand, led Ateneo with 17 points, five assists, and three steals. ADMU dethroned the Green-and-White, ending its five-year title drought.
Exciting first half
The final game of the campaign started with frenetic pace as both teams came out aggressively early on. La Salle won the tip-off but Ricci Rivero opened the game with a traveling violation while Anton Asistio missed his first attempt of the game. Chibueze Ikeh scored the first basket of the game as his tip-in at the 8:56 mark gave the Blue Eagles the first lead of the game at 2-0. The Green Archers quickly turned the ball over in the next possession and Thirdy Ravena capitalized on it as he scored a lay-up to push the lead to four.
The defending champions scored their first points of the game as Santi Santillan made a two-point basket at the 8:40 mark, but it was immediately answered by Matt Nieto as he converted two free throws. With the turnovers starting to pile up for the Green-and-White, the Katipunan-based squad distanced themselves from the Lasallians. I. Go, Aaron Black, and Jolo Mendoza came off the bench to give the Blue Eagles a lift on the offensive end as they took a 24-14 lead at the end of the first period.
La Salle unleashed a massive 11-1 run to start the second period as they were able to tie the game at 25-all with over six minutes remaining in the half. Mbala was the catalyst as he spearheaded the offensive onslaught with eight points, but Asistio stopped the run with a three-pointer at the 5:44 mark to get the lead back for the Blue Eagles.
Both teams exchanged baskets throughout the period but it was the Blue Eagles who took the lead heading into halftime. With 55 seconds left in the second quarter, the Ateneans blitzed the Green Archers as they made a crucial 8-0 run, highlighted by an Asistio buzzer-beater, to end the half strong, 45-38.
At halftime, Mbala and Andrei Caracut each had seven points to lead the Green-and-White but the team committed 14 turnovers, compared to their archrivals’ eight. Even without scoring, Santillan was able to keep La Salle afloat with seven rebounds, with four coming from the offensive end.
Seesaw second half
After trailing by seven points coming into halftime, the Green Archers responded with grit and composure as they regained the lead in the third frame. DLSU again outscored the Blue-and-White, 28-21, despite having a lousy first half.
A nine to nothing run by Santi Santillan and Melecio midway through the quarter gave La Salle its first lead. However, the shift of momentum was halted by Ma. Nieto, Raffy Verano, and Gian Mamuyac as each drained a three-pointer to silence the crowd. Ri. Rivero, on the other hand, answered back with a three-pointer of his own and a transition lay-up to stop the bleeding. La Salle, though, sparked another scoring run off a put-back from Mbala and gained a three-point advantage. Meanwhile, a three-pointer from Mendoza along with a lay-up from Verano evened out another Mbala basket which left the rivals tied heading into the final period with 66 apiece.
The last quarter of the season, however, was in favor of the Blue Eagles as La Salle’s shooting was subpar. As a result, ADMU ignited a 14-4 run and gained 10-point cushion in the last two minutes of play. A valiant effort by the Green Archers kept the Lasallian community alive. A three-pointer by Melecio served as a wake-up call for La Salle only to witness a slam by Chibueze Ikeh on the other end.
Next, the MVP made quick work inside the paint as he scored four points through a free throw and an and-one basket. Finally, a cold-blooded three-pointer by Caracut off a screen from Mbala gave hope for La Salle as they reduced the deficit to two. However, it was in the succeeding possession where Go hit the heart-stopping three-pointer to give ADMU a five-point lead, 85-80. La Salle’s final efforts were a three-pointer from Melecio and Caracut, however, free throws from Asistio and Ma. Nieto sealed the win and brought the title back to Katipunan.
Ateneo shot 40 percent from behind the arc whereas La Salle only made eight out of its 33 attempts. Moreover, DLSU turned the ball over 18 times which gave Ateneo 15 points off La Salle’s errors.
The win ended a five year drought for the Blue Eagles, while the Green Archers will have to wait a year before having a chance to regain their crown.
DLSU 86- Mbala 19, Melecio 16, Ri. Rivero 14, Caracut 13, Santillan 11, Tratter 4, Montalbo 3, Go 3, P. Rivero 2, Tero 1, Baltazar 0
ADMU 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