Championship shifts to Katipunan Anew as Ateneo outlasted La Salle in Game 3 of UAAP Finals

After missing a hook shot in the eliminations that may have given an outright finals berth, Isaac Go may have drained the biggest 3-point shot of his young collegiate career.
With 2 seconds remaining in their shot clock, Go received a pass from Thirdy Ravena and with no choice but to put up a shot, Go put up a looper and swishes the net as the buzzer sounds.
It was a grit and grind game as usual as La Salle managed to take the lead midway the 3rd quarter but Ateneo made a huge run in the 4th quarter to give them an 8 point lead. But again, La Salle fought back and cut the lead into 2 with Andrei Caracut 3-pointer. Then the Isaac Go Title-Clinching shot happened.

The supporter of both teams made the game more exciting as 22,012 fans made it to the venue to watch their favorite teams.
Thirdy Ravena was crowned Finals MVP as he finished the game with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists while Matt Nieto. Chiz Ikeh and Antos Asistio combined for 37 points to help Ravena.
Meanwhile, Season MVP Ben Mbala managed to collect 19 points, 14 rebounds, 1 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks while Aljun Melecio, Ricci Rivero, Andre Caracut and Leonard Santillan managed to contribute, 16, 14, 13 and 11 points respectively.
With this championship, Ateneo Blue Eagles will get an iPhone X and Trip to Hongkong bonus from “MVP” Manny V. Pangilinan.

RECAP: Ateneo Blue Eagles Get Their Revenge Against DLSU, Capture Their 9th Championship Title.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The greatest sports rivalry in Philippine history squared off Sunday afternoon at the Araneta Coliseum in the two best words any UAAP fan can hear: Game. 3.

Ateneo celebrated their 9th championship Thursday night (Photo Courtesy of LJ Mendoza)

The day before, tickets sold out before any announcement could be made, as fans already started camping outside Araneta coliseum as early as 1 am, leaving only General Admission tickets and tickets from resellers/scalpers the only ones available to purchase. The rivalry between DLSU and ADMU could be well seen through social media and fans. 

Like the first two games of the finals, the game had lots of physicality and spirit, as 22,012 were in attendance. ADMU quickly jumped to a 4-0 lead off buckets from C Chibueze Ikeh and F Thirdy Ravena. Threes were going in everywhere from both sides. At the end of the first, the Eagles led DLSU by double digits at 24-14. La Salle turned the ball over 10 times, mostly off deflections and fouls, in just the first quarter. 

In the second quarter, the Green Archers came back charging as their excellent defense led to a 10-1 run. Ateneo didn’t get their first field goal of the quarter until the 5:34 mark. ADMU was able to maintain their 2-4 point lead during the last 5 minutes of the quarter until DLSU Guard Ricci Rivero grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on the post for a second chance opportunity, handing them a 38-37 lead, their first of the game. The Blue Eagles closed the first half on an 8-0 run including a heavily contested bank shot from three made by G Anton Asistio at the buzzer. DLSU outscored ADMU 24-21 in this quarter.

At the end of the first half, the score was 45-38 in Ateneo’s favor. Thirdy Ravena led all scorers with 11 points while the reigning back-to-back MVP Center Ben Mbala and G Andrei Caracut led the Green Archers with 7 points apart. the Green Archers had 14 turnovers with 3 steals compared to Ateneo’s 8 turnovers with 6 steals, but DLSU was able to outrebound the Eagles, 27-22. ADMU was shooting 44 percent from the field while being able to hold DLSU at just 37 percent. 

During the beginning of the second half, shots were going in for both sides as was the great defense. DLSU G Aljun Melecio was able to drive through the lane for the 51-50 lead over Ateneo but Matt Nieto quickly responded with a three of his own to take back the lead for ADMU, his first since missing his first three in the game. The next few possessions turned to a three point shootout, with a total of three lead changes in a span of just 2 minutes. Ricci Rivero came up with two highlight plays during this stretch, one being a behind the back dribble slicing through defenders and a one handed baseline jam off a steal to snatch a 60-59 lead over Ateneo. At the end of the third, the game is tied at 66. La Salle again outscored Ateneo 28-21.

Now in the last 10 minutes of the season, DLSU’s star players Ben Mbala and Ricci Rivero were both playing with three fouls each. Matt Nieto finally recaptured the lead for the Eagles with a three pointer and Asistio made it a back-to-back three which was all part of their 8-0 run to make the lead 76-68 in Ateneo’s favor with just 5 minutes left in the game. DLSU shot poorly from the perimeter as they were 0-for-7 until Aljun Melecio shot a three to keep DLSU’s hopes for a repeat alive. DLSU came up with several clutch plays including a 4 point play from Mbala and Rivero and a clutch three from G Andrei Caracut to cut Ateneo’s lead to just 2. With less than a minute left, Ateneo led 82-80. Ateneo C Isaac Go came up for the dagger once again with a contested three. Aljun Melecio’s second chance three wasn’t enough as ADMU sealed the game with two free throws. As time expired, Andrei Caracut threw a three pointer that counted. 

Ricci Rivero and Ben Mbala of DLSU hug each other in tears in defeat (Photo Courtesy of Ian Genada)

Ateneo captured their 9th championship, their first in 5 years. They now lead the all-time finals series against La Salle, 3-2. The Adamson Soaring Falcons won 2nd runner-up while the De La Salle Green Archers won 1st runner-up. Isaac Go won the Manulife Heart and Hustle Player while the PS Bank Player of the Finals and UAAP 80 Finals MVP was awarded to Thirdy Ravena, who averaged 16.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, and 1.3 SPG in three games throughout the Finals.

By the Numbers: How Ateneo Took Game 1

The Blue Eagles didn’t shoot well. But…

One team almost missed the Finals after getting pushed to a do-or-die game back in the Final 4. Fortunately, that team managed to hang on and got things done. On the other hand, the other team made the Finals after dealing with their Final 4 problem in just one game- despite the controversies surrounding the apparent “biased” officiating that their opponents were whining about a day after the game was played. 
As a result, we are treated to another Ateneo-La Salle Finals slugfest. And Game 1 of the best-of-3 championship series didn’t disappoint the 15,000 fans who watched at the Mall of Asia Arena yesterday as they were treated to a heated game- a typical scene for an Ateneo-La Salle game.

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Blood spilled. Elbows were thrown. Bodies were flying everywhere. In the end, the Blue Eagles were able to score just enough and defend late in the 4th quarter to take Game 1 via a 76-70 win over the Green Archers in a game wherein two-time MVP Ben Mbala was not a factor, at all. 
So how did the Blue Eagles pull off another victory against the mighty Archers? Below are the numbers:

Defense on Big Ben

Like it or not, defending Ben Mbala can be a big headache for any team. But in Game 1 of the Finals, not only did Ateneo defenders force Mbala to miss 4 of his SEVEN attempts which resulted to him only scoring 8 points throughout the game, the Blue Eagles defended Mbala so well that he was forced into making 3 turnovers. He also had 4 fouls although he did grab 12 rebounds for the Archers.

Second-Half Surge

Matt Nieto met Ben Mbala’s powerful elbow and sustained a cut in his head. Bloody cut, indeed.
After seeing his twin brother getting hurt, Mike got to retaliate in the second half by scoring all of his 11 points in the final 20 minutes of the game and that was one of the good reasons why Ateneo came out on top. Even though La Salle was threatening late in the game as they cut the lead to a single point, Mike Nieto made sure that the Blue Eagles held on as he also had help from Thirdy Ravena and Isaac Go who scored the three-point play to ice the game.

Free Throws

Sure, the Blue and White only shot 36% from the field including 27% from the three-point line but they managed to fish 25 fouls from the La Salle defenders which enabled Ateneo to take 30 free throws, making 20. La Salle, on the other hand, went 11 of 19 from the free throw line.


This series is definitely far from over and if you’re Ateneo, expect La Salle, most especially Ben Mbala to come out more aggressive come Game 2 on Wednesday. La Salle hasn’t lost two straight games in 2 seasons. And we can be sure that Aldin Ayo doesn’t intend to break that run now. 

By the Numbers: 3 Things that May Help Meralco in the Finals

Come the much-awaited Finals rematch, the Bolts can use these to their advantage

The Bolts have been preparing for this rematch since losing to Ginebra in last year’s Finals (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

While the defending champions, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings needed a Game 4 victory which was tremendously heated and was mired with fouls and big disparity in the free throws awarded, the Meralco Bolts, last year’s runner-up to the Governors’ Cup champions, the Gin Kings themselves, have swept through the first two games of their semifinal series against the Star Hotshots and barely holding onto the win in Game 3 to sweep the series and book a second consecutive Governors’ Cup Finals appearance. 
Now, everyone has been expecting that both teams will meet again come the Finals not minding the fact that Ginebra even faced then Grand Slam-seeking San Miguel Beermen back in the quarterfinals. That match-up, of course, was won by the Gin Kings.
Since Justin Brownlee nailed that painful three-pointer at the end of Game 6 of last year’s Finals to give the Gin Kings its first championship in 8 years, revenge has been at the back of the minds of the players of Norman Black. They were out-lasted, out-muscled, and even out-coached by one of the greatest and winningest coaches in the history of the PBA in Tim Cone. 
Since then, the Bolts have improved in many ways. For starters, they ended the elimination rounds being the top-seeded team entering the quarterfinals. Then, they beat the Blackwater Elite by leaning on their experience. And, import Allen Durham has produced great numbers these days and we can expect more from him when he battles against Brownlee starting with Game 1 on Friday.

The 3 Major Things that Meralco may Use against the Gin Kings:

Allen Durham’s Numbers

If there’s one player who deserves to be praised for leading the Bolts back to the Finals anew, it’s definitely Allen Durham, the leading candidate for the Best Import award this conference. Why?  Here below are the reasons why he is first and foremost, on track to win back-to-back Best Import awards:
  1. Through 11 games of the elimination round, Durham has averaged 27 points, a league-leading 19 rebounds and another league league-leading 7 assists. In addition to this, he had a near triple-double in their game against the Gin Kings during the elimination round which the Bolts won, of course. He scored 30 points, grabbed 24 rebounds and dishing 9 assists. 
  2. During the semifinal series against the Star Hotshots, Durham was completely an unstoppable beast on both ends of the court as highlighted by his performance in Game 3 which saw him produce 24 points, 19 boards and 6 dimes. Big time player producing big-time numbers on a big-time stage. That’s exactly the kind of player who is poised to win another Best Import award. 

Ginebra’s Turnovers

Okay. Meralco has been turning the ball over too, as highlighted by their 20 turnovers in Game 3 victory over Star. But what enabled the Bolts to win was the mere fact that the Bolts were the more aggressive team in terms of converting those turnovers into points. 
The result: 18 points off turnovers for the Bolts. Now, against a Ginebra team who had 18 turnovers per game in their semifinal series against the Talk N Text KaTropa, the Bolts should be able to continuously pound on the mistakes made by Ginebra ball handlers come Friday because that is what they do best. Every time they successfully force a turnover, they run on the break for easy scores. If you’re Tim Cone, you’d surely want the turnover numbers as low as possible because not even Justin Brownlee’s 46 points can save them if they have more turnovers. 

Meralco’s Bench Production

Looking back to last year’s Finals series between these two squads, Meralco was clearly outplayed despite having Jimmy Alapag in the line-up. One of the main reasons why the Bolts lost the series was the fact that there was no significant reinforcement from the bench players. 
Fast-forward to 2017, the Bolts have reloaded themselves with veteran and proven winner, Ranidel de Ocampo, and young bloods like Mike Tolomia to be the leading bench players. Ranidel de Ocampo for one, has already proven that he is worthy of the trade from his long-time team, Talk N Text, as he delivered with his leadership and also, his ability on clutch situation as highlighted by his performance in Game 3 against Star when he scored 13 points, including the 2-point basket which gave the Bolts a 5-point advantage in the extra period. The Bolts need RDO and his timely baskets if they want revenge against the champs.
Game 1 of the best-of-7 Finals series is 4 days away and for Norman Black and the rest of the title-seeking Bolts, having a longer preparation time means they should be well-prepared for the war that they are about to get involved with. If anything, this will be an exciting championship series between two teams that are proven winners and two coaches who are both known as basketball geniuses.  

By the Numbers: Ginebra’s Big Numbers from Last Night’s Game 46, 25, 21

Ginebra needed big numbers from 3 players to eliminate an import-less TNT team

Coach Tim Cone knows one thing: Ginebra will need more of those numbers come the Finals. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Every basketball fan knew that from the moment Glen Rice Jr. got himself ejected after pushing down Ginebra rookie, Kevin Ferrer and even almost hit the latter with the ball, it would have a rippling effect on the flow of the ballgame. 
For the fans of the defending champions, an ejected TNT import meant that their team could easily score and take the life out of Nash Racela and the rest of the KaTropa. 
Instead, Talk N Text was able to hold onto the lead despite the departure of their import and even built an 18-point lead only to have Ginebra erase it completely as the Gin Kings completely outplayed Jayson Castro and company in the second half which ended with a 115-105 Ginebra win over the fading TNT KaTropa that cemented a Finals rematch between the Gin Kings and the Meralco Bolts.
So, how did the Gin Kings fight they way back to finally eliminate a Talk N Text that was playing an all-Filipino crew? Answer: they needed  big numbers from these players to accomplish that feat:

Justin Brownlee- 46 Points

Okay. Let’s begin with the most obvious one. The ejection of Glen Rice Jr. benefited one specific Ginebra player the most: Justin Brownlee. 
By the end of  Game 4, Brownlee compiled 46 points, his new career’s best, on 15 of 23 field goal shooting which included 4 makes from the 3-point line. In fact, his 11-0 personal run in the 3rd quarter alone enabled Ginebra to get back into the game. But Brownlee was more than just scoring in last night’s victory. Aside from his 46 points, the Ginebra import also grabbed 10 boards and 5 assists while blocking 2 TNT shots in an all-around performance. 

LA Tenorio- 25 Points

While his backcourt partner, Scottie Thompson was held scoreless, LA Tenorio stepped like the “Tinyente” we all know used to know and love in the past, and scored 25 big points, many of those points came in during the pivotal second half run of Ginebra which enabled Ginebra to charge back from an 18-point hole. Tenorio’s 25 points were highlighted by 6 long-range bombs. 
In addition to this, “Tinyente” also had 7 assists, proving that he is still among the elite floor generals we have in the league right now. Although he turned the ball over on 6 occasions, that doesn’t change the fact that Tenorio was one of the reasons why Ginebra is back in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals for the second straight year, giving them a shot at winning back-to-back Governors’ Cup championships. 

Greg Slaughter- 21 Points

With fellow frontline players, Joe Devance and Japeth Aguilar struggling to get anything going on offense, Greg Slaughter, the gentle giant off the bench, made 7 of his 8 shot attempts, on his way to finish the game with 21 points to lead the bench players of both squads. Like Brownlee, Slaughter’s 87% field goal shooting can be associated with the absence of Glen Rice Jr. and the subsequently fading away of the defense of Talk N Text, especially in the second half. Slaughter also had an efficient shooting night at the free throw line, making 7 of 9 charities. He also added 9 rebounds and blocked 2 shots in a remarkable defensive effort for the big man from Cebu. 
The trio of Brownlee, Tenorio and Slaughter combined for 92 of Ginebra’s 115 points. While it’s an impressive outing for the three of them, the rest of the Gin Kings need to improve especially with the Finals about to open on Friday. If they will continue to rely on three players to do all the dirty works in the floor against a vastly-improved Meralco team, Ginebra fans are in for a long Finals series. 
But knowing Tim Cone, he will find ways to have his team ready despite a shorter preparation period because whether you’re a Ginebra fan or not, Tim Cone is one of the reasons why Ginebra was able to win their first championships in 8 years and he will be one of the main reasons why Ginebra is back in the Finals again, facing the same team they’ve beaten last year. 

By the Numbers: 3 Awful Things that Almost Doomed Meralco

These things will hamper the Bolts’ chances come the Finals- regardless of who they will face

Allen Durham logged in 46 minutes in Game 3. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
Sure, the Meralco Bolts are heading back to the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals after sweeping the Star Hotshots via a 91-88 victory last night. While the players deserve to celebrate being back in the Finals and have another shot at  winning the first ever title since coming into the league, we all know as well as Coach Norman Black knows for himself that the Bolts will need to play way better in the Finals compared to how sloppy they performed in Game 3. 
If anything, Meralco was lucky to be able to come out victorious last night despite their sloppiness. The Bolts will need more than just luck especially if they are to face-off against the defending champions, Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, again, should the Gin Kings prevail as victors in their on-going semifinal series against the Talk N Text KaTropa which will be playing their Game 3 tonight.

3 Bad Numbers to Forget in the Finals

Allen Durham had to play for 46 MINUTES

Make no mistake about it, folks. Allen Durham has emerged as one of the best imports to play in this year’s Governors’ Cup. If anything, his 24 points, 19 rebounds and 6 assists were testaments to how great Durham is as a player. But, if the Bolts want a fighting chance against whoever they will be facing in the Finals, Allen Durham must be fresh especially during the critical situations of the game which means, he shouldn’t be playing for 46 MINUTES. 
This means that the rest of the Bolts must step up on both ends of the court to shred off some pressure from Durham and give him the appropriate time to rest. One bad effect of Durham playing heavy minutes which was visible in last night’s Game 3 was the fact that Star threw two defenders at Durham on multiple occasions which resulted in 7 turnovers by Durham himself. 7 wasted scoring opportunities.

20 Turnovers

To be honest with you, this basketball pundit cannot believe that the Bolts did actually win last night despite the fact that there were careless with the ball and turned the ball over 20 times. 20 turnovers. 20 wasted opportunities to score. 20 mistakes which the Star Hotshots took advantage and scored 18 points off those turnovers. As mentioned earlier, 7 of those turnovers came from Durham and mind you, he had the same number of turnovers as of the entire Star team.  

7 Missed Free Throws

Simply put it this way: free throws should be the easiest way for any team to score points and teams should take advantage of all of their opportunities to score free throws because whether we like it or not, free throws can have a rippling effect on the outcome of the game especially if the score is close. And, in last night’s Game 3, the Bolts missed 7 missed that would have widened the lead given the closeness of the score. Had the Bolts made more free throws, Meralco would have won it in the 4th quarter. 
Regardless of who they will be playing against in the Finals, the Meralco Bolts have to remember one thing: both the Gin Kings and the KaTRopa are two talent-laden teams and can compete against them at full force. If anything, their lapses in Game 3 should be a warning sign to the Bolts that if they don’t improve and play like they did in Game 2, there won’t be a championship celebration for Meralco.

SMB Overwhelms Ginebra’s Philippine Cup Debut After a Blow Out Win in Game One

Photo by PBA Media Bureau

San Miguel Beermen is just a hard team to beat with it’s deadly offensive arsenal, this team has been one of the toughest team to crack. Leo Austria and the powerhouse beermen spoils Ginebra’s momentum from the semis as they pile up points in game 1 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals. J
Junmar Fajardo, the 3 time MVP who has been the focal point of the defending AFC champions still proves that he’s the best player in the league making it hard for Ginebra to execute their offense inside the paint also by dominating the boards. 
The lethal outside shooting of SMB’s back court players, Lassiter, Cabagnot and Tubid have been dominant in the game against the crowd darling after sinking multiple three pointers that took the game away from Ginebra. 
Tim Cone admitted in their pre-championship conference that SMB is a tough team to beat, now Cone and the rest of his coaching staff needs to figure out a way to make stops and hopes to bring the game closer in game 2 as they try to tie the series and gain their confidence back in this finals campaign.

Norman Black’s experience, enough to lift Meralco pass Ginebra in the finals, Tim Cone said

Now that the finals stage is set, everyone’s saying that Meralco’s the underdog in this championship match considering facts that it is the first appearance of this team in the finals and experience is one of the factors that the fans and the media people are looking at. But for Tim Cone, experience is not a factor if we’re talking about Meralco with Norman Black calling the shots for them.

“Norman black is not a first timer, its all about the leadership over there Norman obviously he tore apart TNT they dominated that series it wasnt that close” Tim Cone’s reply when asked about his thoughts on facing a new comer in the finals stage. “I remember the year I came in the league 1989 is the year that he won the grandslam so I felt my whole career was based on trying to climb over him
baby was retiring soon and he was the new bench mark.” Cone said.

“So ive always been chasing Norman, the organization might be new to the finals but he’s there and been there and absolutely multiple times both amateurs and PBA Luigi Trillo is over there is also a torn on my side he knows me extremely well he knows what I like to do I had a lot of trouble beating him when he take over Alaska, you also got jimmy there too he knows how to win.”

“For me they are the experienced team”

When asked about his concerns when it comes to the defensive and offensive approach come finals Cone explains his thoughts. We’ve had so much attention just to this game its hard to really think I didn’t watch the game 4. Its hard for me to say but obviously Durham is the key guy and you gotta control Jimmy cause Jimmy leads em obviously.  Hodge had 32 points I’m sure dillinger will be back and that makes it a big impact, they’re a very athletic team that’s the biggest thing you gotta battle their athleticism they’re athletic from point guard to forward so that’s the number one thing that you gotta battle their athleticism allows them to defend well. I really haven’t really formed I game plan for the game. We’ll try to figure it out.

Ginebra owned game 5 vs SMB, finally gets finals spot after 3 years.

Photo by PBA Media

In front of a huge crowd recorded at 20,374 gate attendance, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel finally gets the bacon home as they send SMB on vacation after a huge victory. Ginebra dominated most part of the game but somehow lost their consistency when San Miguel made a huge 22-0 run and cut the lead down to only one. Tim Cone, regrouped  and called a time out after multiple turnovers and missed shots and then went back on the floor to continue the mission. Sol Mercado and Scottie Thompson together with Justin Brownlee lead the way for Ginebra as these 3 players scored more than twenty points each.

San Miguel on the other hand who had a successful night on their game 4 against Ginebra somehow lost their outside shooting in this game and made a lot of errors that caused turnovers that translated to points. Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot had a tough night having multiple misses on the rainbow country while their Import Elijah Millsap try to atleast inch their way back on the driver’s seat.

For Sol Mercado and Thompson who struggled on their last outing prior to this game 5 three point field goals wise has finally found their attempts converted in to points as they made three pointers which helped them win the game. Very good defense is the reason why Ginebra was able to getaway from this game for they were able to deny Junmar Fajardo who is the focal point of the SMB offense. Then Tim Cone who tried to use Zone in game 4 went back to their usual defensive approach which is man to man that made it hard for out side gunners to make an attempt.

The crowd was emotional and started cheering even before the tip off and after the win as they will finally witness their favorite team to appear in the finals after 3 years.
Ginebra will be facing Meralco who will compete on their first ever Finals. Game 1 will be on Friday 7pm at the Araneta Coliseum and will be expected to be a tight one as these two teams battle for the first win of the best of 7 championship series.

Best Player of the Game : Scottie Thompson 24 points 15 rebounds.

The scores:

GINEBRA 117 – Brownlee 26, Thompson 24, Mercado 22, Tenorio 18, Mariano 11, Devance 6, Aguilar 5, Caguioa 2, Helterbrand 2, Marcelo 1, Cruz 0, Villamor 0.

SAN MIGUEL 92 – Santos 24, Millsap 18, Lassiter 11, Cabagnot 10, Heruela 9, David 7, Fajardo 7, Reyes 3, Ross 3, Arana 0, De Ocampo 0, Espinas 0, Semerad 0, Tubid 0.

Quarterscores: 33-12, 45-38, 81-53, 117-92