DE La Salle laid claim to the tag as the best college basketball team in Manila by edging San Beda, 64-60, to reach the finals of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.
Jeron Teng keyed the Green Archers’ late salvo as he scored five of the UAAP champions’ last 11 points, including the go-ahead three-point play en route that broke the backs of the reigning NCAA titlists.
“More than the result, the experience of playing a champion team is what I’m grateful for,” Archers coach Juno Sauler said.
The victory, their second in three games in the single-round Final Four, sent the Archers into a title showdown with Cebuano side Southwestern University, which stunned Far Eastern University, 86-71, earlier.
Game One of the best-of-three Finals is on Monday at 4 p.m. in the same venue.
The Lions, who wound up in fourth spot with a single win in three games, showed a lot of fight in the evenly matched encounter that saw six deadlocks and eight lead changes.
But the Archers just made the biggest plays in the clutch. Down 53-58, La Salle fired nine unanswered points courtesy of Teng, Almond Vosotros, and Jason Perkins to turn the game around.
Teng, hounded by foul trouble down the stretch, finished with an all-around 23 points, eight boards, and four assists, while Perkins registered a double-double of 15 points and 14 caroms.
Art dela Cruz spearheaded the Lions with 19 points, including his team’s last two points that cut the deficit to just two, 62-60.
La Salle (64) – Teng 23, Perkins 15, Vosotros 12, N. Torres 6, Salem 4, T. Torres 2, Bolick 2, Montalbo 0, Van Opstal 0, Tampus 0
San Beda (60) – Dela Cruz 19, Amer 15, Adeogun 14, Dela Rosa 5, Sara 3, Pascual 2, A. Semerad 2, Ludovice 0, Mendoza 0, D. Semerad 0, Koga 0
Quarterscores: 17-16, 25-27, 46-47, 64-60