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Ateneo arranges titanic clash with La Salle.
It would have been a shot heard around the UAAP – had it come a second earlier.
In the precious few moments it took Monbert Arong to recover from a slight fumble, fake a defender out of the way and release a banked shot from point-blank range, time ran out on the Far Eastern Tamaraws last night, preserving the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ 69-68 lead in overtime in their UAAP semifinal do-or-die and setting up a titanic showdown with De La Salle at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game 1 of the finals is on Saturday, the first time the two schools will dispute the UAAP title since 2008.
The sudden death went into overtime after Thirdy Ravena failed to convert on an exquisitely-drawn play with three seconds left in regulation.
With the score tied 66-all, Ravena inbounded from across the Ateneo bench, got the ball back and drove hard along the baseline only to be met by three FEU defenders.
He managed to get off a twisted shot from a difficult angle, with the ball caught between hitting the glass and the back iron and bouncing off as time expired.
That set up the gripping finish.
Vince Tolentino took on the hero’s role after scoring all of the Eagles’ three points in the extra period.
He split his free throws three minutes into overtime to break the deadlock and scored inside with 1:24 to go, giving Ateneo a 3-point edge.
In between those baskets, Ron Dennison hit a baseline jumper after grabbing an FEU miss and the Tamaraws seized the upper hand, 68-67.
It proved to be FEU’s first and only basket in the five-minute extension, with two 3-point attempts going awry and Ateneo putting up a defensive wall on a third shot.