Jeron Teng stepped up in the fourth quarter to tow De La Salle University to a 75-66 win over National University (NU) and stay unbeaten in four games in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.
Teng notched eight of his 23 points in the final canto on 11-of-18 shooting in the field including three pivotal baskets in crunch time while Ben Mbala added 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting in the field plus 15 rebounds to hand La Salle a league-leading 4-0 win-loss record.
“We are ready physically and mentally for this kind of grind,” La Salle coach Aldin Ayo told reporters during the post-game interview. “We’re expecting this kind of game. This is our first win against them for the whole season. We know this will go down the wire.”
The Bulldogs, after trailing a point at the end of first quarter (16-17), opened the second frame on impressive run highlighted by Matthew Aquino’s three-pointer and a block knotted the count to 37-all at halftime.
The Bulldogs exploited the Green Archers’ costly turnovers in the early part of the second half by scoring a devastating 15-6 run. Nico Abatayo scored on two free throws providing NU a 52-43 cushion with still 3:02 left in the third period.
But La Salle countered with 9-2 assault capped by Prince Rivero’s back-to-back lay-ups to narrow the gap to 54-52 after the third quarter.
Teng’s three straight baskets with six minutes to go in the final canto also helped La Salle earn 62-59 lead.
“For us, a win is a win,” said Teng. “Although we have lots more to improve on, we’re happy we got this win. We’ll improve from here.”
The Green Archers sustained their strong start in the pivotal fourth period unleashing a 23-12 run to seal the win. They also forced the Bulldogs to commit 29 turnovers and transform those to 33 points.
Matt Salem led NU with 15 points and nine rebounds. The Bulldogs fell to 2-1 win-loss record.
Aquino played for the first time for NU after missing two games. According to reports, NU secured a temporary restraining order (TRO) on a UAAP ruling that made him ineligible to play.
NU officials refused to comment on the issue.
In the second game, defending champion Far Eastern University survived University of the East, 67-59, to improve to 2-2.
The Red Warriors dropped to 0-3.