DE LA SALLE rallied back from a 15-point deficit and stunned Ateneo de Manila, 80-76, to snap a two-game skid in Season 78 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
First-year player Joshua Torralba hit a huge three-point shot at the corner and Jeron Teng sank two pressure-packed free throws in the closing seconds, as the Green Archers ended the first round with the same win-loss record as their victims at 4-3.
Ateneo was leading 76-74 when Torralba received a pass from Jason Perkins for a corner trey, 77-76, 15.4 ticks left in the game.
The Blue Eagles misfired in their next possession and Teng hit two free throws, 79-76, 10.6 seconds remaining. Reigning Most Valuable Player Kiefer Ravena had the chance to tie the game but his three-pointer at the top of the key was short and Torralba pegged the final score with a split.
Teng led La Salle with 18 points, while Thomas Torres and Perkins added 15 and 13 markers, respectively. Paolo Rivero finished with 10 points and 10 boards for the Green Archers.
Ravena led all scorers with 19 but missed two crucial three-point attempts down the stretch. Chibueze Ikeh had 13 points and 13 rebounds for Coach Bo Perasol.
Earlier, Adamson University shook off a pesky challenge from University of the Philippines, 73-68, to finally nab its first win.
Second-year swingman Jerome Garcia finished with a career-high of 26 points off an eight-for-15 shooting in 30 minutes of action. Transferee guard Joseph Nalos added 15 points and dished off five assists, while Jaydee Tungcab added 13 markers.
The Soaring Falcons ended their six-game slide and recorded their first win under rookie Head Coach Mike Fermin.
UP fell to its fifth straight defeat after scoring back-to-back opening wins over University of the East and La Salle.
“Going into this game, pinaghandaan naman ni Jerome [Garcia] ‘yan. We pushed him sa limit niya and he responded. I just told the guys to back up Jerome and he’s bound for a good game. Salamat at nangyari ngayon,” Fermin said.
Meanwhile, defending champion National University (NU) dominated Far Eastern University, 86-43, to complete a seven-game sweep of the first round on Sunday in the women’s caging at the Blue Eagle Gym.
Reigning MVP Afril Bernardino, Shelly Gupilan and Gemma Miranda combined for 40 markers, as the Lady Bulldogs never trailed in the rematch of the Season 77 Finals to extend their unbeaten run to 23 games dating back from last season.
La Salle subdued University of Santo Tomas, 67-56, to finish second with six straight victories after a season-opening loss to NU.
University of the East capped its surprise first-round run with a 56-51 victory over winless University of the Philippines, while Ateneo hammered out a 49-39 decision over Adamson.
Image credits: Alysa Salen