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Coach Aldin Ayo’s mission of bringing the La Salle Green Archers back to the Promised Land was finally completed last night, thanks to a game to remember from the team’s undisputed leader.
Jeron Teng scored 28 points in a fitting end to his collegiate career as the Green Archers finished off the archrival Ateneo Blue Eagles, 79-72, to capture the UAAP basketball crown in front of a more than 17,000 screaming fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Teng played like a man on a mission right from the beginning as he scored 19 points in the first half to give the Green Archers a comfortable lead, before playing a big part late in the contest amid threats by the Blue Eagles to force a deciding third game to complete the title run many expected from them since the season began in September.
“I wanted this game to be my last, and good thing it happened, we won the ring,” said Teng, who was named as the Finals Most Valuable Player, three years after he and the Green Archers beat older brother Jeric and the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers in a hard-fought three-game series.
The Blue Eagles pulled within 73-69 with 1:35 remaining, but Teng attracted the double team before feeding an open Mbala for the basket that virtually sealed the Green Archers’ date with destiny.
Mike Nieto scored 18 points, Adrian Wong and Raffy Verano added 10 each. Thirdy Ravena and Aaron Black, however, combined for only five points for the Blue Eagles.
LA SALLE 79 – Teng 28, Mbala 21, Montalbo 9, Melecio 7, Caracut 5, Perkins 4, Torres 3, Tratter 2, Rivero P. 2, Sargent 1.
ATENEO 72 – Nieto Mi. 18, Wong 10, Verano 10, Asistio 9. Go 8, Ikeh 6, Nieto Ma. 4, Ravena 3, Black 2, Tolentino 2, Porter 0, Babilonia 0.
Quarters: 22-16; 45-35; 59-52; 79-72.