JERON Teng knocked in six straight points inside the final two minutes, including four clutch free throws, as La Salle pulled off a 57-55 decision over National University yesterday at Mall of Asia Arena to claim a Final Four berth in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament.
Teng’s putback of his own miss with 44.8 seconds left gave La Salle the lead for good, 56-55, and propelled the Green Archers to a share of top spot with the Bulldogs and idle Far Eastern U at 9-4.
Ateneo earlier stayed in the Final Four hunt after eliminating University of the East, 77-72, minus suspended coach Bo Perasol.
Down by 10 at halftime, the Blue Eagles rallied behind Kiefer Ravena and Chris Newsome to forge a tie for fourth with idle University of Santo Tomas at 7-5.
While the first three semifinalists will fight for the twice-to-beat bonus, last year’s finalists Ateneo and UST will dispute the last Final Four berth in the last two weeks of eliminations.
Teng, who holds a miserable 47-percent clip from the free throw line, nailed four straight free throws before scoring the decisive basket that gave the Archers that 56-55 edge.
“After the first round I just told them to be mentally tougher—everything’s mental in our preparation,” said La Salle coach Juno Sauler.
Ravena pumped in 22 points, including six in a 12-2 salvo at the start of the third period that tied the game at 46 after a double-digit deficit, 34-44, at the break.
Newsome took over in the final quarter, firing nine of his 19 points to help prop up the Eagles by 10 points, 72-62, going into the last four minutes.
“We have a veteran group of guys and we have lots of players who know what this last homestretch is all about,” said Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.
ATENEO 77—Ravena 22, Newsome 19, Buenafe 9, Elorde 7, Tiongson 6, Pessumal 5, Erram 5, Golla 4, Tolentino 0, Enriquez 0.
UE 72—Sumang 27, Mammie 11, Jumao-as 10, Alberto 10, Noble 5, Santos 4, Sumido 2, Hernandez 2, Javier 1, Olayon 0, Pujante 0, Flores 0, Casajeros 0.
Quarters: 14-16, 34-44, 56-55, 77-72
LA SALLE 57—Teng 21, Perkins 18, Revilla 6, Van Opstal 5, Salem 3, Vosotros 2, Reyes 2, N. Torres , T. Torres 0, Montalbo 0, Dela Paz 0, Bolick 0.
NU 55—Parks 19, Alolino 15, Villamor 7, Jvillonar 5, Mbe 4, Rosario 3, Neypes 2, Roño 0, Khobuntin 0, Javelona 0, Alejandro 0.
Quarters: 10-14, 25-31, 42-45, 57-55