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Ateneo stops La Salle
Posted: 10:22 PM (Manila Time) | October 04, 2001
By Dennis U. Eroa
Inquirer News Service

Endgame poise

HARD-FIGHTING Ateneo unveiled a newfound endgame poise to thwart defending champion La Salle, 76-72, Thursday night, sending the UAAP best-of-three championship series to a sudden-death before a jampacked crowd at the Araneta Coliseum.

Power-playing Enrico Villanueva bulldozed his way to 22 points, including 12 of 14 free throws on top of 11 rebounds, but the big lift for Ateneo came from veteran Rainier Sison and steel-nerved Magnum Membrere.

Sison and Membrere became chief authors of Ateneo's endgame poise, delivering bombs that shattered La Salle's growing myth of invincibility.

Sison sank a clutch jumper and then Membrere boomed for a triple that broke a 72-all deadlock for a 75-72 Ateneo bulge, derailing La Salle's bid to wrap up its fourth straight plum.

After La Salle's Mike Cortez tied it with a twisting layup, 72-72, a double-teamed Villanueva wisely found Membrere, who let loose a cannon-like shot which pierced La Salle's pride, 75-72, 52 seconds left.

Ren Ren Ritualo, who had a miserable shooting night with a 3 of 12 clip from the three-point area, then missed his third straight triple attempt, hastening La Salle's downfall.

The no-more-tomorrow clash between the bitter collegiate rivals has yet to be decided by the UAAP board. The Green Archers ruled Game One on Oct. 27, 74-68.

"I admire the boys. They were able to regroup," said Ateneo coach Joe Lipa.

This was the first time in four tries this year that the Eagles beat the Green Archers.

In the first game, spitfire Jun Cortez drilled 34 points as the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Cubs swept the junior best-of-three title series with an 89-79 victory over titleholders Ateneo Blue Eaglets. The Tiger Cubs also won game one, 69-67.

But the biggest cheers were reserved for the gutsy Blue Eagles, who even fell behind by eight, 64-56, 8:40 left on Ritualo's three-point shot.

Unlike in the past, though, the Eagles did not panic and not even the ouster of Lewis Alfred Tenorio due to fouls three minutes left, affected their game.

Four straight points by Cortez enabled the Archers to deadlock the game, 70-70, but Sison, now in his last year as an Eagle, responded with a jumper, 72-70, as the Eagles stayed in command.

The absence of 6-foot-6 slotman Carlo Sharma, who was serving out a suspension, also took its toll on the Archers as Villanueva, Rich Alvarez and Paolo Bugia were able to dominate the boards, 42-26.

Endgame poise   
Shock troopers   

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Joey Alarilla

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