De La Salle University escaped reigning champion Far Eastern University (FEU), 83-78, through Jeron Teng’s two crucial baskets in crunch time on Wednesday for its first win in the Season 79 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“I’m really happy our coach has given us the confidence to shoot. Our goal is to win this year’s championship and not anything else,” said Teng.
Teng posted 10 of his 28 points in the pivotal fourth quarter plus six rebounds while rookie Ben Mbala contributed 13 points, 23 rebounds and four blocks for La Salle.
“We’re a little bit rusty but I’m happy that all the players especially our role players like Julian Sargent and Kim Montalbo also played well tonight,” La Salle coach Aldin Ayo told reporters during the postgame interview.
Aljun Melecio contributed 10 points also for La Salle.
Ron Dennison scored 13 points and Allen Trinidad 12 points to lead FEU.
La Salle nearly dominated the entire game until FEU managed to narrow the gap to just a single digit. The Tamaraws even tied the game six times but their charge was halted when Teng took charge.
In the first game, National University (NU) beat University of the East (UE), 72-66, for its first victory, joining early winners Adamson University and Ateneo De Manila University.
The 6’8 Cameroonian Alfred Aroga, despite an sprained ankle, notched 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to spoil the Red Warriors’ onslaught in the last three-minute mark. NU’s solid defense forced UE to commit costly errors after the 65-all deadlock with less than two-minute left in the game.
“Our defense really helped us win this game,” NU coach Eric Altamirano said during the post game news conference. “I told the boys it was a game of runs. Alfred (Aroga) was there when we needed him most.”
Guard Jess Diputado, who finished with nine points and nine rebounds, notched two free throws that gave the Bulldogs a 67-65 edge before Aroga’s basket stretched their advantage to 69-66 with 1:19 left. The Red Warriors failed to recover from that point until the final buzzer sounded. NU outscored UE in the fourth canto, 25-20.
Aroga also posted 13 rebounds, two assists and four blocks while Jay Jay Alejandro had 13 points also for the Bulldogs.
Edson Batiller led UE with 18 points and Alvin Pasaol had 10 points.