La Salle stuns Ateneo in Game 2
SHOWING great resolve and heart of a champion, De La Salle overhauled a seemingly insurmountable lead to shock Ateneo, 92-83, Wednesday and stretch the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball Finals at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Green Archers went on a blistering 40-11 run that turned a 28-49 deficit into a 68-59 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“The players were just to eager at the start. We just played with heart in the fourth quarter and late in the second quarter,” said La Salle assistant Miggy Solitaria, who filled in for head coach Aldin Ayo in the post-game press conference.
Deciding Game 3 is on Sunday still at the Big Dome.
La Salle flaunted its depth with Ben Mbala, Ricci Rivero and Andrei Caracut leading its fightback in the pivotal third period.
Rivero and Mbala, who was officially named MVP for the second straight year, continued their strong play in the final frame, where the Archers even took a 13-point advantage, 85-72, with 4:00 remaining.
“We’re happy to get the win but like what coach said, we don’t want to celebrate unless it’s already finished. We’re not gonna stop working for next game,” said Rivero, who was part of this season’s Mythical Team.
Mbala, who was held to a career-lows eight points and seven field goal attempts in a 76-70 loss in Game 1 on Saturday, was back to his dominant ways.
The 6-foot-7 Cameroonian bounced back with 20 points, 16 rebounds, three steals and four blocks.
Caracut also redeemed himself with 13 points, 10 coming in the second half, after going scoreless in Game 1.
The Blue Eagles raced to a 32-13 lead in the first quarter before extending it to 21, 49-28, with 3:23 left in the second quarter.
But the Archers quickly trimmed it down to nine after closing the first half on an 14-2 blast.
Rivero dazzled his way to 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field that went with five rebounds and four assists despite playing with four fouls in the second half.
Thirdy Ravena had 20 points, six rebounds and four assists but committed seven turnovers. Aaron Black added 15 points while Anton Asistio scored 13.
Asistio had the hot hand in the first half, going 4-of-6 from long range, but he cooled off in the final two quarters, where he went scoreless.
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