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La Salle saves Ricci's breakout game, stave off FEU on a final defensive stop

La Salle saved Ricci Rivero's breakout game by escaping FEU by a close shave.
By Kevin Estrada

QUEZON CITY -- La Salle nearly blew multiple double-digit leads but held their nerve in the defensive end to eke out a close 75-74 win over FEU to open their second round on a high note in the UAAP Men's Basketball tournament Wednesday evening at the Big Dome.

A couple of defensive stops by Aldin Ayo's Green Archers won it for them in the end to score their sixth win of the season after painfully losing last Sunday to Ateneo.

Ricci Rivero shone for La Salle with a breakout game, coming off the bench to score 20 points on a 60% field goal shooting, to go along with 5 steals and dropping 4 dimes.

La Salle lead by as much as 16 in the second quarter before FEU made its move to pull within four at the break, with the younger Rivero doing most of the damage by scoring 12 in that quarter.

The defendings champ started the second half scorching on a 9-0 run but the Tamaraws kept their nerved to reduce the lead to just six heading into the payoff period.

FEU came to within a point multiple times but turnovers killed their chances of snatching the game away from La Salle.

Hubert Cani and Ron Dennison had committed the last two of the 29 Tamaraw turnovers in the final half-minute.

Rivero set the stage for a wild finale, making only one of his last four free throws while intentionally hit all board on his last free throw

But Andrei Caracut stole Dennison's inbound pass intended for Dennison in the final play to preserve the win.

The Scores

La Salle 75 -- Ricci Rivero 20, Mbala 18, Go 14, Prince Rivero 8, Caracut 7, Santillan 3, Tratter 3, Montalbo 2, Gonzales 0, Paraiso 0

FEU 73 -- Tuffin 14, Cani 13, Dennison 10, Parker 9, Eboña 8. Escoto 7, Orizu 7, Iñigo 3, Ramirez 2, Stockton 0, Trinidad 0, Comboy 0

Quarter scores: 18-13, 39-35, 62-56, 75-74

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada