DE LA SALLE University tamed National University (NU), 57-55, to clinch its Final Four ticket on Sunday in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 76 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
La Salle joined early semifinalists NU and Far Eastern University on top with similar 9-4 cards.
Jeron Teng fired 21 points and had seven rebounds and a steal for La Salle.
Meanwhile, defending champion Ateneo de Manila University bucked the absence of head coach Bo Perasol on Sunday to rally past University of the East (UE), 77-72,
The Blue Eagles, winner of five consecutive titles, shook-off a bad first three quarters performance to eliminate also the Red Warriors in the Final Four race to tie the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers in the fourth place with a 7-5 win-loss mark.
Skipper Kiefer Ravena, who scattered a season high 22 points, hit six straight points in Ateneo’s dazzling 18-3 run in the third quarter that transformed a 12-point deficit into a slim 52-49 advantage with only three minutes and 41 seconds left in the last quarter.
UE made a last ditch effort to regain the lead and eventually narrow the gap to only 69-72 with two minutes remaining but couldn’t convert in the next possessions including Shej Roi Sumang’s crucial missed lay-up in the waning seconds of the game.
Ravena scored the game-clinching lay up to provide the Blue Eagles a 74-69 cushion and were never threatened under the last minute mark.
Rookie Chris Newsome added 19 points and eight rebounds for the Blue Eagles, who missed the service of Perasol due to a one-game suspension slapped by the UAAP board after confronting a La Salle fan identified as JJ Atayde last week in a game against De La Salle University.
Sumang led UE with 27 points.