The Ateneo Blue Eagles captured the 2017 UAAP championship after surviving rival De La Salle Green Archers, 88-86, in the pulsating Game Three of the finals on Sunday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Ateneo big man Isaac Go buried a cold-blooded three-pointer with 24.7 seconds left to douse La Salle’s late rally and seal the crown for the Blue Eagles.
Ateneo now owns a total of nine men’s senior basketball titles. The Blue Eagles won their first title since their five-peat run from 2008-2012.
They also avenged their finals defeat to the Green Archers who swept them last year.
In the closely fought game attended by 22,012 fans, Ateneo dropped a 14-2 bomb to zoom to an 80-70 edge with just four minutes remaining.
But La Salle didn’t back down, putting up one last run after capitalizing on Ateneo’s errors. An Andrei Caracut triple helped his team pull closer, 82-80, with 48.9 ticks left.
But Go drained a clutch trey to spoil the Green Archers’ comeback hopes.
Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena led Ateneo with 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Matt Nieto added 14 points, while Chiz Ikeh chipped in 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Two-time MVP Ben Mbala finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds but he wasn’t in his usual dominant form for the entire series due to Ateneo’s suffocating defense.