Ateneo hands giants La Salle first loss of the season

Courtesy of Aaron Black and Matthew Nieto, the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles stunned the previously undefeated De La Salle University Green Archers, 83-71, in the second round of eliminations of UAAP Season 79 at the Araneta Coliseum, Saturday afternoon.

The lefty gunner Black, who didn’t play in their previous game against the Archers due to injury, led the Eagles with 17 points on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting to go along with seven rebounds while backup point guard Matthew Nieto chipped in 15 points, four assists and two steals.

The Blue Eagles were on top after the first two quarters, 44-36, and sustained it to post a double digit lead at the start of the fourth period, 61-50. Ateneo would lead by as much as 18 points in the final quarter.

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Ateneo shot a season best 50.77% from the field while the La Salle was held to a season low 28.75% field goal shooting. The Katipunan-based squad also out-rebounded their taller opponents, 48-43, and forced 26 turnovers compared to their 20.

Isaac Go was crucial for Ateneo as he held his own against the leading MVP-conteder Ben Mbala and finished with 10 points, seven boards and a block in 23 minutes of playing time as well as Adrian Wong who had 11 points, five assists and two steals.

For La Salle, King Archer Jeron Teng led the way with 18 points, three boards and three dimes while the hulking Mbala scored 17 and grabbed 15 rebounds but had seven turnovers. Kib Montalbo tallied nine steals to go along with six points, two rebounds and three assists in the loss.

La Salle has now dropped to 12-1 while Ateneo improved to 7-4, tightening their grip on the third seed of the Final Four and threatening to nab FEU’s twice-to-beat second seed.

SCORES:

Ateneo: Black 16, Ma. Nieto 15, Wong 11, Go 10, Asistio 9, Verano 6, Ravena 4, Tolentino 4, Mi. Nieto 4, Mendoza 4, Ikeh 0, Babilonia 0.

La Salle: Teng 18, Mbala 17, Melecio 11, Montalbo 6, Caracut 6, P. Rivero 4, Perkins 3, Torres 3, Tratter 3, Go 0, R.Rivero 0, Baltazar 0, Sargent 0.