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MIKE Cortez (No. 11) of La Salle finds himself well covered by Ateneo’s Rich Alvarez (10) after the Archer barges into Eagle Jec Chia.
Eagles stop Archers, finally
Posted: 11:27 PM (Manila Time) | Sep.. 14, 2002
By Dennis U. Eroa
Inquirer News Service

GAMES SUNDAY (Makati Coliseum)
2 p.m. -- UP vs NU
4 p.m. -- UST vs UE

LA SALLE'S academy of winning learned a shocking, painful truth Saturday night, courtesy of its archrival Ateneo.

In a clash that simmered with emotions, Ateneo dashed La Salle's hope for a rare 14-game sweep with a 76-63 victory before the usual overflow crowd at the Araneta Coliseum.

But more than the prestige that it gave Ateneo, the win bolstered the Eagles' bid for the twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four.

The victory created a triple tie for third among University of the East, Ateneo and University of Sto. Tomas.

The one with the best quotient will clinch second spot, a position that carries the twice-to-beat incentive.

The format calls for No. 1 needing only to beat No. 4 to enter the finals. No. 2 needs only to beat No. 3 once to earn a finals berth.

Slotman Enrico Villanueva had a five-point diet, but that hardly had an impact on Ateneo as his teammates, notably Wesley Gonzales, Cris Quimpo, Rich Alvarez, Andrew Cruz, Jec Chia and Larry Fonacier filled up the slack.

Their intensity finally burst the bubble that the Archers built via a 13-0 run before Saturday night's game.

Ateneo, which finished its elimination campaign with a 9-5, win-loss card, had a flat start, going scoreless for more than five minutes in the first quarter. But once the Eagles recovered their bearings, there was no stopping them.

With a wonderful ball movement backing up a well-oiled assault, the Eagles, starring Gonzales, raced to a 22-15 lead in the first quarter.

That trend continued up to the end.

La Salle, which looked tired after that 79-78 squeaker over the University of the Philippines on Thursday, made repeated attempts to come back, only to be driven back each time by Ateneo's gallant stand.

After trailing by 10, 46-56, La Salle's supporters clad in green-and-white prayed hard for a miracle.

It never came.

The Archers compounded their woes when they went into early penalty, 8:03 remaining in the fourth period.

Two free throws by Cruz gave Ateneo a 64-46 lead. After that, Ateneo spent the rest of the way answering every La Salle shot fired.

The 5-foot-5 Quimpo personified the Eagles' determination when he even forced the 6-foot-6 Carlo Sharma into a jumpball, drawing cheers from the crowd, 2:45 left.

Although La Salle won the toss as expected, it was clear that Ateneo has regained its poise as it avenged its 60-70 first round setback to the Archers.

"This feels like a championship. It feels so good because behind us is a very great basketball tradition," said Ateneo coach Joel Banal. "The glory belongs to God."

Coach Franz Pumaren offered no excuses for the defeat. He didn't say that his charges were tired (Cortez was pulled out with 3:30 left). He said Ateneo played well and La Salle was just a shadow of its old, deadly self.

"You didn't witness the true La Salle basketball tonight," Pumaren said.

Since the Archers still went on to gain a twice-to-beat advantage despite the loss, Pumaren said his charges will go into the Final Four with renewed confidence.

Their 13-1 record made them the runaway leader after the eliminations.

In the first game, Far Eastern University drubbed Adamson, 84-78, for fifth place. Gerard Jones bannered the Tamaraws' attack with 20 points.

FEU finished with a 6-8 win-loss card while Adamson slipped to 3-11.


First Game:

FEU 84 -- Jones 20, Sinco 14, Santos 13, Miranda 10, Rizada 8, Cutler 8, Razon 2, Isip 2, Garcia 0, Catli 0.

ADAMSON 78 -- Tiongco 16, Mangulabnan 14, Abadia 13, Catabay 9, Tagupa 8, Ferrer 7, Hate 5, Mamaclay 2, Rolan 2, Venal 0, Gandarosa 0, Alonzo 0.

Quarters: 17-18, 43-40, 70-55, 84-78.

Second Game:

ATENEO 76 -- Gonzales 17, Fonacier 15, Alvarez 12, Chia 10, Cruz 10, Villanueva 5, Elmido 3, Quimpo 3, Intal 0, Escalano 0, Tadeo 0, Benitez 0.

LA SALLE 63 -- Cardona 18, Cortez 17, Manalo 8, Wilson 7, Sta. Maria 4, Ramos 3, Sharma 2, Cabatu 3, Yeo 1, Vainio 0, Tang 0.

Quarters: 22-15; 36-34; 56-46; 76-63.

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