MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Round 1 goes to Taft.
De La Salle University banked on a second half assault to escape arch-rival Ateneo de Manila University, 82-73 in the 76th UAAP men’s basketball tournament Sunday, July 7 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Arnold Van Opstal and Luigi Dela Paz found their groove in the second half as the Green Archers overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to grab their second win in 3 games.
The Blue Eagles built momentum early on as dynamic forward Chris Newsome exploded for 18 points in the first half.
Ateneo sat on a 48-34 advantage early in the third canto before Van Opstal and Almond Vosotros detonated a 16-2 bomb to tie the game at 50-all.
Looking for their first win against Ateneo since 2010, La Salle held onto their lead dearly for most of the final quarter but the Blue Eagles slowly chipped it away to just 4, 70-74.
Dela Paz then unleashed a clutch trey from the corner with under two minutes to play as the Archers completed their tremendous comeback and handed Ateneo their third straight loss.
“We were not executing and sharing the ball in the first half,” said DLSU head coach Juno Sauler. “We scored 31 in the third. I told them to stop doing things on our own.”
The Taft-based squad outscored Ateneo, 31-18, in the pivotal third period as they took advantage of Ateneo’s 24 second-half turnovers and converted these to 18 points of their own.
The Archers then upped their field goal shooting from 32.4% to 44.1% and out-rebounded the Blue Eagles, 48-32.
Van Opstal came off the bench to finish with 18 points and 8 rebounds; Dela Paz had 10 after a scoreless first half.
“This is my first win against Ateneo,” said Van Opstal. “They’ve had their time. This is our time.”
Vosotros topscored La Salle with 19 points and 9 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Newsome paced Ateneo with a game-high 27 markers, but was hardly a factor in the second half. Juami Tiongson and Ryan Buenafe added 14 and 10, respectively.
– Levi Verora, Mychael Miravite and David Lozada/Rappler.com