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La Salle downs Ateneo
Posted: 9:25 PM (Manila Time) | September 27, 2001
By Dennis Eroa
Inquirer News Service

Fiery finish

DE LA Salle banked on its tremendous poise under grinding pressure to hack out a 74-68 victory over Ateneo and move within a win of completing the coveted "four-peat" in the University Athletics Association of the Philippines men's basketball championship Thursday night at the Araneta Coliseum.

Ren Ren Ritualo shrugged off a shaky start to key La Salle's fiery finish with a nerve-crunching jumper, but the spotlight also belonged to teammates Mike Cortez, Manny Ramos, Carlo Sharma and Willy Wilson, who exploded at the right time.

Ateneo, which is hoping to end 13 years of frustration, came out with guns blazing but simply collapsed in the face of the Green Archers' relentless assaults in the fourth period.

Hampered by Ateneo's double-teaming defense, Ritualo struggled in the early going, before punishing the Eagles with his outside shooting, the last one giving the Archers a 71-67 lead, 40.8 seconds left.

To the frustration of their supporters, the Blue Eagles suddenly lost their focus, flubbing several shots which led to the insurance free throws of Manny Ramos, 73-68, 3.9 seconds left,

The sad ending for the Eagles came after they came back from eight points down, 61-69, 1:19 left. Rich Alvarez and Lewis Tenorio clustered two three-point plays, 67-69, before Ritualo came to the rescue.

"The true character of the team showed. They just won't give up," said La Salle mentor Franz Pumaren.

While stressing that team effort lifted the La Salle to victory, Pumaren added that he expects an Ateneo comeback in Game Two of the best-of-three series slated on Oct.4, also at the Big Dome.

Shooting well from the field, the Blue Eagles were in command, repulsing the Green Archers' repeated rallies with their clinical plays. Mike Cortez gave La Salle a 45-43 lead but Rainier Sison, Rich Alvarez and Magnum Membrere made it 54-49 for the Eagles.

Fiery finish   
Inside plays   

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Joey Alarilla

Section Editor


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