Ateneo regain UAAP title after five-year wait, dethrones La Salle in a Game 3 classic

Ateneo regain UAAP title after five-year wait, dethrones La Salle in a Game 3 classic

Let the bonfire begin. Ateneo is back on top of the UAAP basketball throne after a five-year wait. Dennis Jerome Acosta/Dugout Philippines
By Kevin Estrada

QUEZON CITY -- BACK AT THE HILL.

Ateneo De Manila regained the UAAP Men's Basketball crown after a five year wait, dethroning ersthwile champions La Salle in a nailbiting finale, 88-86 Sunday evening at the Araneta Coliseum.

With the horror of the meltdown in the second game still fresh on the minds of the Blue Eagles, Tab Baldwin's men made sure that their strong start to the game go for naught, as they collected their ninth title in the showpiece event since joining the league in 1978.

Thirdy Ravena finally come out of the shadow of his Kuya Kiefer as he tow them to their first crown in the post-Drive For Five era by notching 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assist to his name.

Ravena, who had led Ateneo in scoring in the entire series, was later adjudged as the Finals MVP.

Two-time MVP Ben Mbala made sure that the throne will not be relinquished without a fight, as he posted a double-double of 19 markers and 14 boards in a losing cause for the Green Archers who will have an off-season of uncertainty as their reign comes to a close under the same Dome where they won it all 361 days ago.

Ateneo came out blazing in the opening frame, scoring the first four points of the game as they take a 10-point cushion.

Thirdy Ravena capped off an amazing championship series as the Finals MVP, as he leads Ateneo in scoring in all three games. Franchesca Nicole Collantes/Dugout Philippines
However, La Salle ignited an early rally in the second period with an 16-6 blitz to even matters at 30 but Ravena and Anton Asistio quelled the resistance to take a seven-point advantage at the half, punctuated with an Asistio trey at the final buzzer.

A shootout ensured in the second half as both teams found their range from outside as the third ended all squared at 66.

But Ateneo found their groove in the payoff frame, leaving La Salle in the dust with a 10-0 blast to lead by eight with 6:37 to go.

However, the Archers did not give up the title without any resistance, as Andrei Caracut hit a triple with 48.9 seconds to go to pull within two points.

Yet the Blue Eagles had the last laugh, as Isaac Go hit a booming trey of his own to seal the title to Katipunan with 24.9 ticks left.

The Scores:

Ateneo 88 -- Ravena 17, Matt Nieto 14, Ikeh 12, Asistio 11, Tolentino 9, I. Go 7, Verano 6, Mendoza 5, Black 4, Mamuyac 3, Mike Nieto 0

La Salle 66 -- Mbala 19, Melecio 16, R. Rivero 14, Caracut 13, Santillan 11, Tratter 4, J. Go 3, Montalbo 3, P. Rivero 2, Tero 1, Baltazar 0

Quarter scores: 24-14, 45-38, 66-66, 88-86

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada

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