DE LA Salle completed its domination of the UAAP Season 79 seniors basketball tournament with a 79-72 win over Ateneo on Wednesday for a sweep of the championship series at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Jeron Teng saved his best for last as he crowned his collegiate career with a second career championship, scoring 19 of his season-high 28 points in the first half to set the tone for the Green Archers before a crowd of close to 17,500 fans at the Big Dome.
Overwhelming favorites to win the UAAP Season 79 seniors basketball crown, the Green Archers lived up to the billing by sweeping the best-of-three finals series against a Blue Eagle side that defied all preseason formcharts to reach this far.
It was the first league championship in three years for the Green Archers, who romped through the season with the loss of just one game under first-year coach Aldin Ayo.
Ayo also became the first coach in recent memory to win the NCAA and UAAP crowns on back-to-back occasions, after winning the title for Letran last year.
“Gusto ko lang talagang manalo because of the pressure, the support of boss ECJ (La Salle team manager Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.), the support of La Salle community,” said Ayo.
Save for a lone defeat against Ateneo in the second round, La Salle was simply a cut above the rest this season with a team led by league MVP Ben Mbala and the graduating Teng.
“Right from the start, gusto ko na ibigay ‘yung best ko. Eto ‘yung last game ko. I really want to give my all to La Salle,” said Teng, who was named Finals MVP.
The Green Archers went on an 8-0 run in the second quarter to break the game open, 33-22, and they spent the rest of the game holding off one Ateneo run after another.
The Blue Eagles, who entered the Final Four as second seeds, fought gallantly but couldn't close enough to threaten La Salle, no thanks to turnovers and a spotty performance from the free-throw line.
La Salle (79)—Teng 28, Mbala 18, Montalbo 9, Melecio 7, Caracut 5, Perkins 4, Torres 3, Tratter 2, Rivero 2, Sargent 1.
Ateneo (72)—Mi. Nieto 18, Wong 10, Verano 10, Asistio 9, Go 8, Ikeh 6, Ma. Nieto 4, Ravena 3, Black 2, Tolentino 2, Porter 0, Babilonia 0
Quarterscores: 22-16, 45-35, 59-52, 79-72.