La Salle University, as expected, swept Ateneo de Manila University, 79-72, on Wednesday to win the title in Game 2 of the best-of-three championship series of University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Green Archers, relying heavily on their “mayhem” defense throughout the game, leaned heavily on skipper Jeron Teng to get a good start, which they sustained the rest of the way en route to a ninth UAAP men’s basketball crown in front of 17,495 spectators.
Teng exploded for a game-high 28 points, including 19 in the first half, plus three rebounds and two assists. His impressive performance in Game 2 eclipsed his 10-point performance in Game 1 last Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Teng, who shot 12-of-20 overall in the field, will be graduating this season.
The Green Archers barely escaped Game 1 via a 67-65 win.
“Right from the very start, I really liked to give my very best in this game since this will be my last,” said Teng, who won the Finals MVP award with an average of 19 points and 3.5 rebounds in two games in the series. “We just followed the instruction of coach and we’re happy to bag the title.”
Cameroonian Ben Mbala maintained his double-double performance from the start of the season until the championship round by sealing Game 2 with 18 points and 10 rebounds, plus two blocks.
“It is pretty funny, I was a soccer player before and didn’t know anything about basketball,” said Mbala. La Salle started the game on a high note by turning a 22-16 first-quarter lead to a 45-35 cushion at the halftime break behind the superb effort of Teng. Ateneo fought well in the second half but La Salle matched the intensity to preserve the lead until the final buzzer sounded.
La Salle coach Aldin Ayo became the first ever collegiate coach in history to win the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the UAAP title on his first year. Last year, Ayo won the NCAA title for Colegio de San Juan de Letran.
“It feels so good but I’m not thinking about it because all I’ve wanted is to put the UAAP title back to La Salle,” said Ayo during the post-game interview. “I’m very thankful to the La Salle community, the players and to my coaches.”
The Green Archers lived up to the expectation of the fans as the league’s powerhouse team prior to the start of the season in August. They ended the elimination round on a high note, winning 13 games and losing only once against Ateneo in the second round.
Guard Kib Montalbo finished with nine points and rookie guard Aljun Melecio had seven points for La Salle. Despite being out-rebounded (38-49), the Green Archers shot accurately in the field overall than the Blue Eagles (29-of-63 against 24-of-70).
Mike Nieto scored 18 points, while Adrian Wong and Rafael Verano had 10 points each for the Blue Eagles.
Prior to the opening tip off, La Salle’s Mbala was declaredSeason 79 MVP while teammate Melecio won the Rookie of the Year trophy.
Mbala, Jeron Teng, Raymar Jose of Far Eastern University, Thirdy Ravena of Ateneo and Paul Desiderio of University of the Philippines were named the Mythical Five.