LA Salle again put one over rival Ateneo in their `Dream Game’ exhibition match. And Don Allado was once more the man of the hour for the Green Archers.
The veteran forward scored the basket that broke the game’s final deadlock, and La Salle held on for a 111-108 win over their longtime nemesis on Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Allado reprised his hero’s role for the Taft-based school by hitting a baseline jumper in the final 40 seconds to shatter a 108-all standoff and give the Archers the lead for good.
The former two-time UAAP MVP also led La Salle’s charge in a 117-104 rout of Ateneo in last year’s inaugural staging of the event featuring alumnus of both schools who are now playing in the PBA.
MacMac Cardona's split from the foul line in the final three seconds proved to be the game's marginal basket.
Chris Tiu missed a desperate game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer as Ateneo, the five-time reigning UAAP men’s champion, went down in defeat for the second straight year.
Cardona was named Most Valuable Player after pouring 29 points for the Green Archers, coached for the second time by Franz Pumaren. Ryan Arana and Carlo Sharma added 21 and 14, respectively.
"It's always fun coaching my old players because it brings back fond memories," said Pumaren, who steered the school to four straight UAAP men's title from 1998 to 2001. "And they always have the desire to win, whether it be an exhibition or a crucial game."
Unlike last year when the Archers were dominant all-game through, this time the Eagles gave their rivals a good fight.
Despite missing key players in Gilas Pilipinas stalwarts La Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar, and Larry Fonacier, along with Doug Kramer, Enrico Villanueva, and Eric Salamat, the Eagles made a fight out of it, rallying from a 79-87 deficit at the end of the third to eventually tie the game at 108-all on a basket by Noy Baclao with 50 seconds left.
But Allado won’t let this one escape away from the Archers’ grip, answering back with his own a few seconds later for the go-ahead basket for La Salle.
Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Magnum Membrere then missed on consecutive three-point attempts, before La Salle grabbed the rebound and eventually, led to two free throws awarded to Cardona.
Tiu finished with 29 points, while Al-Hussaini chipped in 26 for the Blue Eagles, who were mentored by Sandy Arespacochaga.