JOSHUA Torralba hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 33.9 seconds left as De La Salle completed an 80-76 comeback win over rival Ateneo on Sunday in the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Jeron Teng scored 18 points while holding his ground defensively against Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena in two late possessions, allowing the Green Archers to snatch a game where they trailed by as much as 15 points.
The win enabled the Green Archers to catch the Blue Eagles in third place with a 4-3 win-loss slate.
The Green Archers came up big in the clutch, scoring the final six points in the game, none bigger than the Torralba trey from the left flank that gave La Salle the upperhand, 77-76.
Teng hit two free throws with 10.9 seconds to play to extend the lead to 79-76 then forced Ravena to take difficult shots in successive possessions. Ravena missed both badly.
Ateneo’s last stand came when Chibueze Ikeh scored on a lay-p with 1:28 left for a 76-74 lead. But the Blue Eagles never scored again.
“Hard-fought game between the two teams,” said La Salle coach Juno Sauler.
Torralba struggled to find his range, making just three of 12 shots from the field in scoring nine points. But he was spot-on with the shot that mattered.
“He (Torralba) has been working on his threes. It paid dividends today,” said Sauler.
Thomas Torres had 15 points, nine rebounds, and four assists for the Green Archers while Jason Perkins added 13 points on 3-of-6 from the three-point range.
Sauler, however, emphasized that defense was the bigger reason behind for La Salle’s win.
La Salle's defense was particularly effective against Ravena, who finished with 19 points but only made seven of 24 shots with Teng fronting him most of the time in the second half.
“It’s really the players putting their effort on defense,” Sauler said.
Ikeh had 13 points and 13 rebounds for Ateneo, which failed to protect a 15-point lead, 37-22, it built in the second quarter.
La Salle (80) — Teng 18, Torres 15, Perkins 13, Rivero 10, Torralba 9, Caracut 6, Tratter 4, Navarro 3, Muyang 2, Sargent 0.
Ateneo (76) — Ravena 19, Ikeh 13, Capacio 10, Gotladera 8, Pessumal 8, A. Tolentino 7, Pingoy 6, Apacible 2, Babilonia 2, Ma. Nieto 1, Cani 0.
Quarterscores: 13-25, 36-46, 61-61, 80-76.