MANILA, Philippines – Kai Ballungay and Mason Amos delivered the big baskets as defending champion Ateneo defeated archrival La Salle 77-72 in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.
Amos showed up when it mattered most, scoring eight straight points, including back-to-back triples for a 70-64 cushion with 2:07 remaining.
An emphatic Ballungay dunk followed by a Jared Brown jumper sealed the game, 74-67, with just a minute remaining as the Blue Eagles earned their first win after dropping their opener on Saturday.
Ballungay recorded a double-double with 18 points and 16 rebounds, including 12 on the offensive glass, while Chris Koon led all scorers with 19 points, adding seven rebounds and three assists.
“I don’t do it often, but I just want to give a big shout out to the guy sitting on my right (Kai Ballungay). 12 offensive rebounds out of 27. 27 is a huge offensive rebounding performance, which is an indication that our guys have come to battle. I don’t know that Kai can take down twelve. That actually goes beyond Ange Kouame-esque. That really says something,” said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.
Amos, who scored just two points in their 77-64 loss to National University last Saturday, proved his worth with 12 points, including three triples to go with five rebounds, while Joseph Obasa added 11 points and 16 rebounds.
“Well, I think a lot of people are going to be really excited about this, but it’s the second game of the season. It’s a great rivalry game between two proud universities, and obviously we’re happy to have won it. The most important thing is that I think we found a fight. That was missing in the previous match and it is very worthwhile to experience that,” said Baldwin. “However, the quality of performance needs to improve, but I think it will continue to improve. This is a difficult game to try and be efficient when you have the emotion and intensity of the opponent.”
Quiambao paced the Green Archers with 17 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks. Evan Nelle had 15 points, three rebounds and three assists, while Earl Abadam added 11 markers.
Ateneo (77) – Koon 19, Ballungay 18, Amos 12, Obasa 11, Brown 8, Espinosa 5, Lazaro 2, Chiu 1, Quietvis 1, Credo 0, Bongo 0, Nieto 0, Gomez 0.
DLSU (72) – Quiambao 17, Nelle 15, Abadam 11, Nonoy 9, Austria 5, Cortez 4, Manuel 3, B. Phillips 3, M. Phillips 2, David 0, Escandor 0, Gollena 0.
Quarter scores: 25-23, 37-39, 47-54, 77-72