Whether as a fan in the stands or as a player on the floor, you’ll always remember your first Ateneo-La Salle game. Joshua Torralba will certainly remember his.
He had made only two of his eleven shots, including a putrid 1-for-8 from long distance.
He was all alone in the corner in the game’s dying seconds, as Jeron Teng dribbled just inside the three-point line and tried to get past a phalanx of Ateneo defenders. Teng swung the ball Jason Perkins, who found Torralba, and, percentages be damned, the rookie calmly buried the triple that swung the lead in La Salle’s favor, 77-76, with time down to 33 seconds.
Teng would also come up in the clutch for the Archers, and he did it not just on offense, but also by staying in front of Kiefer Ravena in a couple of possessions as the reigning MVP tried to get the lead back for the Blue Eagles. After a Ravena miss, Teng was sent to the free throw line, where he had previously missed seven of his eleven charities. But this time, Teng nailed the pressure-packed free throws to increase La Salle’s lead to 79-76.
The Blue Eagles, however, had 10 seconds left and a chance to send the game into overtime. But Teng was able to force Ravena into taking a difficult shot from beyond the arc, and as Prince Rivero tapped the ball to Torralba, who ran the length of the floor, the game, and La Salle’s comeback, was finally complete.
Despite being down by as much as 15 in the first half, the Green Archers stormed back into the game behind a strong third quarter. And after a pulsating fourth period, they were able to complete the comeback and defeat the Blue Eagles, 80-76, in their first meeting in Season 78 of the UAAP earlier today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The win ends La Salle’s first round on a high note, as they finished with a 4-3 win-loss record, the same as their arch-rivals, which gives the teams the third and fourth spots in the standings behind FEU and UST.
A lay-up by John Apacible gave the Blue Eagles a 37-22 lead midway through the second quarter, as Ravena, Von Pessumal, and Gwayne Capacio carried Ateneo in the game’s early goings. Free throws by Teng and Thomas Torres, and a three-pointer by Jason Perkins enabled La Salle to close to within 36-46 at the half.
The Archers then began the third period with a searing 18-4 run, capped by a Perkins triple that gave the Archers a 54-50 lead. But Ravena, Arvin Tolentino, and Chibueze Ikeh would score baskets for the Blue Eagles to give them back the lead, though an Abu Tratter basket with two seconds left allowed the Archers to knot the count at 61 heading into the game’s final ten minutes.
No team led by more than four points in the fourth period, with a Ravena jumper allowing Ateneo to take a slim 69-65 edge. Perkins, Torres, and Teng, however, would each score baskets for La Salle to take a 71-69 lead. Ravena and Ikeh would then take charge for the Eagles, with an Ikeh basket with 1:27 putting Ateneo in the driver’s seat, 76-74.
This basket, however, would be the Ateneo’s last points in the contest as La Salle completed the comeback by scoring six points, none bigger than Torralba’s go-ahead three, to give them the hard-earned win.
Teng finished with 18 points, six rebounds, and five assists for the Archers, while Rivero finished with a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards. Torres, playing his best game of the season, turned in a near double-double of 15 points, nine rebounds, and four dimes, while Perkins netted 13 and grabbed five boards for La Salle.
Ravena led all scorers with 19 points, five boards, and five assists, though he made just seven of his 24 shots with Teng shadowing him for most of the second half. Ikeh finished with 13 points and 13 boards for the Blue Eagles, while Capacio also finished in double-figures with 10 markers.
La Salle finished with more rebounds 48-44, more perimeter points, 26-21, and less turnovers (9-12) than Ateneo, though the Blue Eagles dominated the assists department, 22-13, and had a more productive bench, 38-15.
La Salle – 80- Teng-18, Torres-15, Perkins-13, Rivero-10, Torralba-9, Caracut-6, Tratter-4, Navarro-3, Muyang-2, Sargent-0
Ateneo -76- Ravena-19, Ikeh-13, Capacio-10, Pessumal-8, Gotladera-8, Tolentino-7, Pingoy-6, Babilonia-2, Apacible-2, Nieto, Ma.-1, Cani-0
Quarterscores: 13-25, 36-46, 61-61, 80-76