Clutch Teng lifts La Salle over Ateneo in UAAP Finals opener
Jeron Teng made clutch plays on both ends of the floor and top seed De La Salle escaped longtime rival Ateneo, 67-65, for a 1-0 lead in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball Finals before a raucous crowd Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Teng converted on a layup to give the Green Archers a 66-65 lead with 15.1 seconds left before denying Aaron Black’s potential go-ahead basket on the defensive end.
Green Archers head coach Aldin Ayo knew all too well his captain would not falter under the championship pressure.
“Winning time, pag end game na or crunch time, si JT beterano na and may talent (This is the endgame or crunch time and JT is our veteran and he has the talent in the clutch),” said Ayo. “Hindi magpapatalo ‘to eh (This guy won’t accept losing).”
Adrian Wong had a chance to win it for the Eagles but his Hail Mary shot, after Kib Montalbo split his free throws with 3.3 seconds left, bounced off the backboard as time expired.
Teng had an earlier attempt ruled out when it was reviewed his shot did not beat the shot clock buzzer with La Salle leading, 64-63, with 39.6 seconds remaining.
Ben Mbala was the high-point man for La Salle as he finished with 20 points to go along 15 boards while rookie Aljun Melecio and Teng combined for 22 markers.
Black led Ateneo with 12 points and eight rebounds.
LA SALLE 67 – Mbala 20, Melecio 12, Teng 10, Sargent 7, Torres 5, Montalbo 4, Rivero P 3, Tratter 3, Rivero R 2, Caracut 1, Perkins 0, Baltazar 0
ATENEO 65 – Black 12, Wong 9, Ravena 8, Ikeh 8, Nieto Mi 8, Go 6, Verano 5, Nieto Ma 5, Tolentino 2, Asistio 2, Porter 0, Mendoza 0
Quarters: 19-6, 36-26, 52-52, 67-65
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