UAAP: Ateneo escapes La Salle to complete first round sweep

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 8) — The Ateneo Blue Eagles maintained their undefeated record in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80 after edging the La Salle Green Archers, 76-75, on Sunday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Matt Nieto paced Ateneo with 16 points, while Anton Asistio added 14 of his own.

The Blue Eagles got off to a hot start, roasting the Green Archers from the three point line to erect a 28-16 lead going into the second frame.

Ateneo stretched their lead to as much as 41-26, but the Lasallians managed to trim their deficit to just 43-36.

La Salle continued to chip away at the Ateneo advantage, and finally dragged down the lead to just 63-63 before the payoff period.

Ateneo continued to keep La Salle at bay, but Abu Tratter finally gave the Lasallians the lead with a putback bucket, 73-71, with 3:14 left to play.

But the two rivals refused to let the other go on any significant runs, with La Salle holding a precarious 75-74 cushion with 1:03 left in regulation.

With seven ticks left on the clock Ateneo forced a turnover on a La Salle inbound play, which forced the Green Archers to send Matt Nieto to the line.

Nieto drained the two late free throws, and gave Ateneo a 76-75 lead with three seconds left for La Salle to steal the win.

Ateneo was able to contain reigning MVP Ben Mbala in the final play to preserve their win.

Ricci Rivero scored a game-high 19 points for La Salle, while Mbala registered 18 points and 13 rebounds.

After the game, Nieto took time to remind everyone of his mistake in the finals last season. According to the Ateneo guard, he worked to ensure it would not happen again.

"If you remember noong finals I had a foul counted. I had to sink one free throw, after missing that we lost," Nieto recalled. "I promised myself that once that moment comes again, that won't happen."

Ateneo is still perfect after the first round with a 7-0 slate, while La Salle slid down to 5-2.

Netizens took to Twitter their reactions on the Ateneo-La Salle game.

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