By JONAS TERRADO
Jeron Teng scored a close-range shot with 1.9 seconds left as La Salle hacked out a 66-64 victory over defending champion Ateneo in last night’s thrilling UAAP Season 76 encounter at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The reigning Rookie of the Year drove to the paint before making the winning basket that gave the Green Archers their fourth consecutive triumph and the solo third in the team standings at 7-4.
“It doesn’t matter if we win three straight or four straight but we just have to keep our momentum going,” said coach Juno Sauler.
While Teng’s shot magnified the match witnessed by more than 16,000 fans, it was fourth-year guard Almond Vosotros who exploded for the Taft-based squad.
Vosotros fired 16 of his 19 points in the payoff period to help La Salle rally from a nine-point second quarter deficit. He was held scoreless for most of the first half until his buzzer-beating triple cut La Salle’s deficit to 33-31 at the break.
Ateneo saw its five-game winning run end and fell into a fourth place tie with University of Santo Tomas at 6-5.
Earlier, The Tigers needed two overtime periods and the heroics of Cameroonian center Karim Abdul to beat erstwhile leader Far Eastern University, 79-78, in front of almost 7,000 spectators.
Fireworks erupted at the end of the game when coach Bo Perasol had to be escorted by a bouncer and his coaching staff when he jumped into the stands to confront a Lasallian heckler.
The incident completed a frustrating evening for Perasol, who was earlier whistled for a technical foul for entering the court to contest a foul on Kiefer Ravena. That led to two Vosotros free throws that made it 63-59 with exactly a minute remaining.
Ravena eventually knotted the game at 64-all on a quick drive off Vosotros with 14.9 ticks left before Teng rose to the occasion.
Abdul scored a three-point play to brake a 76-all tie before blocking a Mac Belo shot in FEU’s final chance at winning the game.
Aljon Mariano forced the first overtime with a three-pointer while Tata Bautista made it a second extra period on his own triple.
“Akala ko hindi na matatapos yung laro, may lakad pa ako,” UST coach Pido Jarencio said in jest.
UST 79 – Abdul 24, Mariano 21, Ferrer 15, Lo 8, Bautista 6, Pe 2, Daquioag 2, Sheriff 1, Lao 0.
FEU 78 – Romeo 19, Belo 15, Mendoza 13, Garcia 8, Hargrove 6, Cruz 6, Tolomia 5, Pogoy 4, Sentcheu 2, Jose 0.
Quarters: 10-16; 21-32; 43-44; 62-62 (Reg); 70-70 (1OT); 79-78 (2OT).
LA SALLE 66 – Vosotros 19, Perkins 13, Revilla 11, Teng 8, Torres 6, Van Opstal 4, Montalbo 3, Salem 2, Tampus 0, Reyes 0, de la Paz 0, Bolick 0.
ATENEO 64 – Tiongson 14, Elorde 13, Ravena 12, Buenafe 9, Newsome 8, Pessumal 4, Golla 2, Erram 2, Tolentino 0, Enriquez 0, Capacio 0.
Quarters: 13-16; 31-33; 46-49; 66-64.