TENG, LA SALLE SIZZLE in 2OT
Ateneo de Manila shook off Far Eastern University's tenacious defensive stance then reciprocated the clamp down by silencing its foes through a four-minute breakaway in the fourth period that set the tone for a 74-71 triumph last night that installed the Blue Eagles as solo leaders anew in the UAAP men's basketball competition at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Blue Eagles fought back from deficits of as many as 12 points and detached from a see-saw battle early in the fourth quarter with nine unanswered points from a 60-59 count and assured them of the win at 69-60, with 68 seconds left in the game.
Thus, the Loyola-based squad completed the first round with its sixth win in seven games while dealing the Tamaraws their second loss against five wins.
University of Santo Tomas (5-1) is tipped to join Ateneo at the top of the standings today when the Growling Tigers take on lowly Adamson University (1-5) at the close of the first round of hostilities. They face off at 2 p.m. before the second game between University of the East and University of the Philippines at 4 p.m.
The first game was not bereft of intense drama after De La Salle University needed two extra periods to dispose of National University, 87-86, that showcased the true worth of super rookie Jeron Teng who finished with 35 points and set at least three new records in scoring in the league.
Teng poured in nine points in two overtime periods, including two three-pointers, as he carved out a new mark for most points in a game in men's competition in 10 years, most points scored by a rookie and the most production from a Green Archer in at least 13 years.
The La Salle forward actually shared the scoring honors with National University counterpart Bobby Ray Parks but his endgame exploits proved more sterling that powered the Green Archers into a tie for fourth place with the Bulldogs at 4-3 at the close of the first round.
"Before the game, we told ourselves we could not afford to fall behind in the standings. We finally beat one of the seeded teams and we hope we can build on that," said DLSU coach Gee Abanilla whose wards atoned for a double overtime loss for an 82-84 loss to University of Santo Tomas two weeks ago.
It was a forlorn and frustrated FEU side which had looked to snap a six-game losing skein to the Blue Eagles that included back-to-back debacles in the championships of seasons 73 and 74.
Powered by the tough defensive stand of brothers Mark and Arvie Bringas and American import Anthony Hargrove, the Tamaraws kept the Blue Eagles to a season-low 27 points in the first half while dominating them with leads of as many as 12 points at 35-23 in the second quarter.
But guards Juami Tiongson and Juan Nicholas Elorde sparked a third quarter comeback with three triples, with the latter knocking in a trey at the 4:02 mark that put the Blue Eagles to within 45-46 and sent the jampacked Cubao arena in wild celebration.
The Blue Eagles would eventually grab the lead at 58-57 early in the fourth quarter on an inside basket by Nico Salva.
The two teams exchanged baskets until Arvie Bringas scored on a hook shot over 7-foot Greg Slaughter that put the Tamaraws closest for the last time at 59-60, with 4:39 left in the match.