Ateneo escapes rival La Salle to complete 1st round sweep

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The Ateneo Blue Eagles completed a seven-game sweep of the UAAP Season 80 first round after escaping defending champions De La Salle Green Archers, 76-75, in their rivalry game on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.

Matt Nieto sank two clutch free throws with 3.9 seconds left to cap off a 16-point performance and rescue the Blue Eagles from the Green Archers’ late rally.

Anton Asistio added 14 points while Jolo Mendoza chipped in 10 markers.

Ateneo led by as many as 13 points, 41-28, in the second quarter. But La Salle clawed its way back, and eventually seized the lead in a close fourth quarter, 75-74, after Ben Mbala made free throws with 1:03 left.

La Salle had its chance to seal the game but Nieto intercepted an inbound pass by the Green Archers. He was then fouled with 7.8 seconds left and calmly sank the two pressure-packed free throws.

The Green Archers couldn’t convert on the other end as Mbala was hounded by Ateneo defenders in the last play.