Over 17,000 fans gathered at the Mall of Asia Arena to witness another La Salle-Ateneo classic yesterday, October 4, as the Green Archers rallied from a 15-point deficit to steal the victory from the Blue Eagles, 80-76.
Jeron Teng led the Green Archers in scoring with 18 points while dishing out five assists. Prince Rivero posted another double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, six of which came from the offensive end. Joshua Torralba, on the other hand, scored nine points, including the crucial go-ahead three-point basket with 31 seconds left in the game.
Kiefer Ravena notched a game-high 19 points for the Blue Eagles while adding five assists to his statline. Rookie big man Chibueze Ikeh, meanwhile, came up big for Ateneo with his 13 points and 13 rebounds coming off the bench.
“We worked out our threes in practice and it paid dividends today,” said Green Archers head coach Juno Sauler regarding DLSU’s three-point shooting during the third quarter, which catapulted them back into the game.
The Green Archers struggled early in the game. On the defensive end, DLSU was committing early fouls, giving Ateneo opportunities at the free throw line. Ravena started to create matchup problems for La Salle’s defense as he was able to spread the floor with his scoring and playmaking ability. Ateneo was also quick in transition as they were scoring off DLSU’s missed shots and turnovers. With less than five minutes to go, Ravena exploded to the basket for a two-handed slam dunk, giving the Blue Eagles a 16-9 lead. In addition, Jerie Pingoy and Matthew Nieto were contributing quality minutes for the Blue Eagles as they started penetrating and finding their big men down low. The first quarter ended with the Green Archers trailing by 12, 25-13.
During the second quarter, Ateneo continued to pad on their lead over the Green Archers. Early on, it would seem like a lopsided game for DLSU as they found themselves behind by as many as 15 points at the six-minute mark. This, however, became the turning point for the Green Archers as Teng, who was frustrated with his perimeter shooting early on, began attacking the basket and drew fouls from the Ateneo defense. At the end of the first half, DLSU was down by only 10 points, 46-36.
At the start of the second half, Sauler made the necessary adjustments to get his team back in the game. The Green Archers came out of the dugout with great energy and hustle. Torralba opened the quarter by making a three-pointer while Torres was also able to convert on a three-pointer of his own off an Ateneo turnover. This allowed DLSU to cut the lead to single digits, 46-42, early in the quarter. Torres continued to be the difference-maker for the Green Archers. He managed to penetrate the defense and find his shots underneath and with 6:11 left in the third quarter, La Salle took a 49-48 lead following back-to-back three pointers from Perkins.
From there on it was a test of heart for both squads. Ateneo and La Salle began to trade shots with neither team able to gain a substantial lead. Ateneo looked to Pingoy to provide the firepower they needed and the former UAAP Juniors MVP consistently found Ikeh for high percentage shots. At the end of the third quarter, the score was tied at 61.
The crowd was on their feet as both teams entered the fourth quarter. With just two minutes in, the Eagles managed to score quick and easy shots courtesy of Pingoy’s penetration. On the other end, the Green Archers started to make their shots from the perimeter and behind the three-point line.
Torres, who was on a streak during the entire second half, made an acrobatic shot to tie the game at 69. This was immediately followed by Teng muscling his way through the paint and scoring despite a hard foul. After converting the three-point play, DLSU was up by two with less than five minutes to spare.
During the dying moments of the game, Ravena was sent to the free throw line with a chance to make three shots. Luckily for the Archers, Ravena missed the first two shots and was charged with a costly five-second violation at the line.
Down by two after an Ikeh basket, it was the rookie Torralba who came up with the heroic act for DLSU with less than a minute left to play. After La Salle swung the ball, it ended in the hands of Torralba, who probably made the biggest three-point shot of the season and gave the Green Archers a crucial one-point lead.
“It was a big shot,” Torrlba said after yesterday’s victory. “I was frustrated during the game but [it is a] good thing I made that big shot.”
With 15.4 ticks on the game clock, Sauler played a four-guard lineup to anticipate an Ateneo foul to stop the clock. Teng was sent to the stripe to make both crucial free throws. At this point, DLSU was leading by three, 79-76. Ateneo called a timeout to draw a play for Ravena to send the game into overtime. However Teng’s tight defense and Torralba’s ensuing free throw sealed the deal for La Salle, 80-76.
DLSU 80 – Teng 18, Torres 15, Perkins 13, Rivero 10, Torralba 9, Caracut 6, Tratter 4, Navarro 3, Muyang 2, Sargent 0
ADMU 76 – Ravena 19, Ikeh 13, Capacio 10, Pessumal 8, Gotladera 8, Tolentino 7, Pingoy 6, Babilionia 2, Apacible 2, Nieto 1, Cani 0
Quarterscores: 13-25, 36-46, 61-61, 80-76