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Behind hot Teng, Archers are UAAP kings anew

The victorious De La Salle squad during the awarding ceremonies. 
By Ricky Manliguis

QUEZON CITY--Jeron Teng and the rest of La Salle just made sure the UAAP title goes back to Taft.

With Teng providing the jumpstart, the Archers dominated from the get-go to waylay bitter rivals Ateneo, 79-72, in Game 2 of the UAAP Season LXXIX men’s Seniors basketball Finals at the jam-packed Araneta Coliseum Wednesday.

Fending off furious rallies by their Katipunan rivals throughout the game, the Archers thus completed a historic sweep in the best-of-three affair for the school's first UAAP title since 2013. 

Also, Coach Aldin Ayo won his second straight collegiate title after guiding Letran to the NCAA crown last season, a first in college basketball history.  

Back from where he left off in Game 1 last Saturday, Teng exploded for 19 first-half points as the Archers took the upperhand early for a 10-point halftime lead, 45-35.

The lead went as high as 14 in the third period, then hanged on to 11, 65-54, on an Aljun Melecio three-pointer with 8:39 left in the fourth quarter. 

The Eagles went back to life courtesy of brothers Matt and Mike Nieto, with the latter's free throws cutting the lead to 61-67 on the 5:16, then Isaac Go scored on a stickback to make it 69-73, 1:35 left.  

Ben Mbala then scored four unanswered points, but Raffy Verano converted a three for 72-77, with 59.6 seconds left.

Ateneo failed to score thereafter, as Mbala, Teng, and Thomas Torres then converted four of their six free throws to settle the outcome.  

Teng finished with a game-high 28 points on a 60 percent shooting from the field (12-for-20). He also tallied three rebounds, two assists, and a steal in 34 minutes of action.

He was later named Finals MVP, averaging 19 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game.
Jeron Teng is the  Finals MVP, averaging 19 points in the series.
Season MVP Ben Mbala registered another double-double of 18 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks, while Kib Montalbo chipped in nine markers, spiked on three triples, with four boards and three steals.

Newly-minted Rookie of the Year Melecio also provided the spark, scoring five of his seven total points in crunchtime, including a twisting lay-up over the outstretched arms of Thirdy Ravena to give them a 67-59 lead.  

La Salle shot 29-of-63 for a 46 percent clip  from the field, compared to ADMU's 34 percent (24-of-70). It was free throw shooting that proved decisive, as the Eagles missed 12 of its 32 tries from the stripe. 

Mike Nieto paced Ateneo with 18 points and three rebounds, while Adrian Wong and Verano both cashed in 10. 

Box Scores:  

La Salle 79–Teng 28, Mbala 18, Montalbo 9, Melecio 7, Caracut 5, Perkins 4, Torres 3, Tratter 2, P. Rivero 2, Sargent 1

Ateneo 72–Mi. Nieto 18, Wong 10, Verano 10, Asistio 9, Go 8, Ikeh 6, Ma. Nieto 4, Ravena 3, Black 2, Tolentino 2, Porter 0, Babilonia 0

Quarterscores: 22-16, 45-35, 59-52, 79-72

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