Ateneo dethrones La Salle to regain the UAAP crown.

After five years of championship drought, Ateneo are once again Kings of UAAP Men’s basketball as the Blue Eagles defeated the De La Salle Green Archers in a Game 3 thriller, 88-86, to win their first title since winning the 5-peat back in 2012.

This game was similar in a lot of way to Game 2, except in the ending. La Salle once again started the game slow, as the first quarter ended with Ateneo in full control, 24-14. La Salle fought back during the second quarter, but Ateneo finished the quarter strong, ending the first half with a score of 45-38 in favor of the Blue and White.

It was a nip and tuck affair during the third quarter, as the stars of both teams such as Ricci Rivero, Ben Mbala, Thirdy Ravena and Matt Nieto went to work during the third period. The third period ended with the score knotted at 66-all.

Ateneo led by as many as 10 points during the fourth quarter, but La Salle fought back and cut the lead all the way down to two, 82-80, with 48.9 seconds to go, thanks to an Andrei Caracut triple. Thirdy Ravena, then, ran a perfect pick-and-roll play to set up Isaac Go for a clutch triple to make it 85-80 with 24.7 ticks remaining. La Salle eventually cut the lead to 3, 86-83 during the dying seconds of the game. And just like what he did during their first-round encounter, Matt Nieto once again made two clutch free throws to ice the game for Ateneo.

Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena led the way for the Blue Eagles with 17 points. Matt Nieto finished with 14 points, while Isaac Go chipped in  7 points including the biggest trifecta of the game.

Season MVP Ben Mbala led the way for the Green and White with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Aljun Melecio scored 16 points while Ricci Rivero chipped in 14 points.

The scores:

ATENEO 88 — Ravena 17, Ma. Nieto 14, Ikeh 12, Asistio 11, Tolentino 9, Go 7, Verano 6, Mendoza 5, Black 4, Mamuyac 3, Mi. Nieto 0.

LA SALLE 86 — Mbala 19, Melecio 16, R. Rivero 14, Caracut 13, Santillan 11, Tratter 4, Go 3, Montalbo 3, P. Rivero 2, Tero 1, Baltazar 0.

Quarter scores: 24-14, 45-38, 66-66, 88-86.