Defending champion Ateneo squandered a huge lead, but still rolled to a 71-61 victory over La Salle in UAAP Season 75 action Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Before a crowd of 17,380, 7-foot center Greg Slaughter scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds, spitfire guard Kiefer Ravena added 16 points, four rebounds, and two steals, and Nico Salva had 16 points and seven rebounds to lead the Blue Eagles to their third victory in four games.
“Whenever we fight La Salle, we know it’s gonna be tough,” Ateneo coach Norman Black said. “There’s so much spirit in the building. We took the quick lead, but they made a comeback which is expected.”
Ateneo dominated the game early as Ravena scored eight points the Blue Eagles grab a 20-8 lead after the first quarter.
They pushed their lead to 16 points, 26-10, after free throws from big man Justin Chua at the start of the second quarter.
LA Revilla then fired 10 points to ignite a run by La Salle, which managed to cut the Ateneo lead to nine points at halftime, 35-26.
La Salle continued its rampage in the third quarter, with Revilla conspiring with star freshman Jeron Teng to tie the game, 42-all, with more than four minutes in the fourth quarter.
Luigi Dela Paz later gave the Green Archers the lead, 45-44, on a three-point with 3:13 left in the quarter, before Ateneo regained the advantage at the end of the third quarter, 53-50.
Slaughter, who was bothered by the double-teaming defense of La Salle in the first half, woke up in the fourth quarter, helping Ateneo grab a 62-53 lead with 5:48 left in the game.
Revilla and Teng conspired to cut the lead to Blue Eagles’ lead to just five points, 66-61, leading into the last two minutes of the game. But the La Salle duo lost steam late in the game, with Revilla missing a three-point attempt and Teng committing a five-second inbound violation that sealed the victory for Ateneo.
Ravena praised his teammates for stepping up when he and Slaughter struggled during La Salle’s comeback.
“We really had a lot of options today,” said Ravena. “It was a team effort, it was a great win.”
Revilla posted 16 points and seven assists, while Teng added 13 points and eight rebounds to spearhead La Salle, whose win-loss record fell to 2-2.
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