MANILA -- Ateneo clobbered its poor hold of the basket to move ahead against La Salle, 30-26, at the end of the first half in the 73rd UAAP men’s basketball at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Ryan Buenafe, who was 2008 Rookie of the Year, scored seven points while Bacolod standout Justin Chua added six markers to spark the early rally of the defending champions.

Freshman Luis dela Paz, on the other hand, paced La Salle with four points while five players scored three points apiece.

Ateneo never lost a game to La Salle since the 2008-2009 season.

As expected, thousands of avid fans trooped to the Big Dome to watch the first match between the archrivals for this season.

Among those sighted in the venue are US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr., Education Secretary Armin Luistro and former cage stars from both schools who are now seeing action in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)