La Salle crowned UAAP men's basketball champion

MANILA (Updated) -- De La Salle University (DLSU) needed a five-minute extension to upend University of Santo Tomas (UST), 71-69, for the 76th UAAP men's basketball title on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The Green Archers now have eight crowns with Jeron Teng leading the charge with 25 points and eight rebounds. Teng was also named Finals MVP before 23,396 people, one of the highest in league history.

"We just didn't give up," said Teng, who felt the victory was bittersweet as he had to defeat the team of his graduating brother Jeric.

Jeron hugged Jeric in the court after the game.

“He did his best, gave his all. I just told him that he has nothing to worry,” said Jeron.

Almond Vosotros added 16 points including his go-ahead basket that gave La Salle a one-point lead, 70-69 with 19.7 ticks left. After Karim Abdul’s miss, LA Revilla drew a foul but only split his freebies.

La Salle, whose last title was in 2007, need not fret as UST blew two chances to win it all. Abdul’s shot rimmed out, causing pandemonium inside the world-class arena.

"We just did the same things, the things that we knew would bring us to where we are right now," said Archers coach Juno Sauler although he cautioned that there is more to winning a championship.

Sauler stressed the need to improve on a daily basis.

“You might be champions but if you don’t do your best, that’s nothing to me. I’d rather be the best at what I do and not even be the champion as long as I reach my best potential,” said Sauler, who ironically followed the footsteps of UST mentor Pido Jarencio as champion on his rookie year.

Aljon Mariano could have delivered the diadem for UST but missed an attempt at the end of regulation, 65-65. The Tigers also held a 15-point lead in the third quarter, 40-25, only to be reduced to a solitary point going into fourth, 48-47.

“Everyone is really frustrated because we worked hard for this. We started from the bottom and moved up. We could have made history as the first fourth seed to become champion,” said Jeric.

Fans lined up early for tickets but the MOA Arena released only 1,800 passes, all of which were standing room only. Other tickets were distributed to La Salle and UST.

The Tigers took Game 1, 73-72, before the Archers recovered in Game 2, 77-70. (Sunnex)


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