La Salle dealt fierce rival Ateneo a stinging reminder that its glory years in the league may be over.
Rallying from a double-digit deficit, the Green Archers repulsed the defending champion Blue Eagles, 82-73, yesterday and sent Ateneo to its worst start of 0-3 in 16 years in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.
Almond Vosotros fueled a huge third-quarter run that saw the Archers outscore the Eagles, 31-16, to finish with 19 points on top of nine rebounds.
Arnold Van Opstal came off the bench to finish with 18 points and Luigi dela Paz delivered key baskets in the final two minutes as the Archers built a 79-72 buffer after the Eagles had threatened within three, 70-73.
“We came into the game knowing this is our time,” said Van Opstal after the Archers improved to 2-1. “They (Eagles) had their time, so we said ‘Let’s make this ours.’”
Before the Archers’ thrilling triumph, the Eagles had won 12 of their 13 meetings in Ateneo’s five-year reign as champs. Now the Eagles are within a loss of matching their four straight defeats at the start of the 1997 season.
Earlier, Far Eastern University roared to its third straight triumph as Terrence Romeo pumped in 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to power the Tamaraws past the University of the Philippines’ Maroons, 75-57.
The Archers trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half, 34-48, before dropping a 16-2 bomb that tied the game at 50-all.
Van Opstal completed a three-point play to give the Archers their first lead since the opening minutes, 54-52, then linked up with Vosotros, Dela Paz and Jeron Teng to put the game away.
“Basically, we executed what we were supposed to do on offense,” said La Salle coach Juno Sauler. “We know our strengths and just maximized our abilities.”
Still playing minus injured star Kiefer Ravena, the Eagles looked set to snap out of their 0-2 start as Chris Newsome exploded for a game-high 27 points, including 18 in the first half where they led at 40-28.
RR Garcia also collected 15 points, seven boards and four assists for the Tamaraws, who jumped to a 23-12 start that ballooned to a 29-point lead, 62-33, in the second half.
FEU 75—Romeo 20, Garcia 15, Tolomia 10, Cruz 8, Mendoza 6, Jose 6, Belo 6, Iñigo 2, Aguilon 2. Sentcheu 0, Pogoy 0, Luz 0, Lee Yu 0, Hargrove 0, Delfinado 0.
UP 57—Soyud 10. Ball 9, Lao 7, Amar 6, Wong 4, Marata 4, Gallarza 4, Desiderio 4, Gingerich 3, Suarez 2, Pascual 2, Asilum 2, Paras 0, Ligad 0, Harris 0.
Quarters: 23-12, 41-21, 62-41, 75-57
LA SALLE 82—Vosotros 19, Van Opstal 18, Teng 13, Dela Paz 10, Perkins 9, T. Torres 8, N. Torres 5, Reyes 0, Montalbo 0, Bolick 0.
ATENEO 73—Newsome 27, Tiongson 14, Buenafe 11, Pessumal 10, Erram 6, Elorde 3, Golla 2, Tolentino 0, Capacio 0, Babilonia 0.
Quarters: 16-20, 28-40, 59-56, 82-73