MANILA, Philippines — La Salle gained separation from Ateneo in the race to the final four after a thrilling 66-64 win, thanks to Jeron Teng, Sunday in the UAAP season 76 men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Teng shrugged off a lackluster game and bailed the Green Archers out with a leaning clutch jumper with 1.9 seconds left, allowing them to get a full game edge in the standings.
La Salle improved to 7-4 and nabbed solo third, while Ateneo dropped to 6-5 and tied with University of Santo Tomas at fourth place.
With the time winding down and a tied game, the former rookie-of-the-year took it strong to the hoop and past defense of Ateneo’s Chris Newsome.
“I just told him to make good decisions. He made a good read there, he wasn’t double teamed,” said head coach Juno Sauler.
“All throughout the game, I couldn’t get my rhythm. But in the last play, I’m thankful that coach trusted me with the last play,” Teng, who only had eight points, said.
Almond Vosotros sizzled with 19 points, carrying the load for the Green Archers when Teng rode the bench in the third because of foul trouble.
After starting the fourth period with the lead, the Blue Eagles were made to play catch up in the last five minutes after the Green Archers took a 57-53 lead.
Down 59-63, Ateneo leaned on a triple by Ryan Buenafe, with 41.9 seconds left, then later on a drive from Kiefer Ravena to knot the game.
But Ravena left enough time on the clock — a 14.5 ticks — for the Green Archers to take the last shot, which Teng capitalized.
Juami Tiongson led the Blue Eagles with 14 markers while Nico Elorde added 13. Ravena had 12, but had five turnovers.