Greg Slaughter has been the big difference for the Ateneo Blue Eagles this season as the 7 foot wonder has been unstoppable inside and his defense quite remarkable. The De La Salle University Green Archers obviously knows this advantage and their game plan was to take out that advantage by going aggressively and strongly to the hoop to bait Slaughter to get into foul trouble. The Green Archer’s plan succeeded with Slaughter gettting two early fouls in the first quarter which prompted Coach Norman Black to sit the bigman for the rest of the first half. Unfortunately though, the Green Archers did not capitalize on that as their arch nemesis worked their way to a 79 – 62 win , the 11th straight of the Blue Eagles in the 74th Season of the UAAP.
Slaughter went to the bench early and the Green Archers went inside the paint. Unfortunately, the inexplainable happened as every Green Archer offensive was either thwarted, rimmed out and just simply did not go in as the only lead the Archers had was at 5 – 4 early in the first quarter . The Blue Eagles also forced the Green Archers to turnovers that allowed them to build on an early 14-11 lead at the end of 10 minutes.
The second quarter was again another defensive game as both teams struggled on every possession given them. The Green Archers opened up the quarter with their vaunted pressure defense which the Blue Eagles easily dismantled and eventually resulted in two Tonino Gonzaga lay ups. Fourth year forward Nico Salva on the other hand awoke from the slumber that had him miss all his field goals in the game agains the Red Warriors. Salva scored six points and that was enough to stem the tide as the Green Archers had a hard time erupting or getting their smooth offensive game going. The half eventually ended with the Blue Eagles just a notch ahead 31 – 26.
After the first half, the towering presence of Slaughter was again back but the Blue Eagles offense came through good defense and great transition play. The Blue Eagles capitalized on four consecutive Green Archer turnovers to erect a 42 – 29 lead. At the same time, the Green Archers missed their shots and botched their offensive plays as everyone from the Green side wanted to cut down the lead by shooting three pointers that never really got close to going in. The Blue Eagles once again spread out their offense with Emman Monfort scoring six points with four of those coming from the stripe as the team from Katipunan finally found the separation they needed to take a 53 – 42 lead with 10 minutes left to play.
Green Archer point guard Almond Vosotros has become the comeback kid for the Green Archers as he fueled another DLSU run to start the fourth quarter. Vosotros scored on a runner off a fastbreak and then followed it up with a three pointer to cut the Ateneo lead to six 53 – 47. Tonino Gonzaga came off the screen to sink a three pointer and after a joshua Marata and Vosotros miss Slaughter and Gonzaga would score again to give the Blue Eagles more breathing room on a 60 – 46 lead and after that the Blue Eagles would never look back to chalk up win number 11 and if ever the top seeding while the Green Archers went tumbling down with their 4th consecutive loss and a 4 – 7 slate. The Green Archers are on the brink of being eliminated as their next opponents propose imminent danger. Next stop for the Blue Eagles, the UP Maroons, the NU Bulldogs and the Adamson Falcons and as they say the plot thickens! Five more wins for crown number seven.
This is the first time that the Blue Eagles are 11- 0 in the UAAP with a chance to sweep the league. In the 1976 NCAA the Blue Eagles went 13 - 0 and lost their last game to San Beda. The Blue Eagles eventually regained their composure then to win their 14th Title. This time, the Blue Eagles are poised to do what no Blue Eagle team has done in the past 87 years to sweep the league. Five more wins and its history for the Ateneo.
Salva 19, Ravena 13, Monfort 13, Gonzaga 12, Slaughter 8, Chua 7, Long 6, Tiongson 1, Erram 0, Sumalinog 0, Golla 0, Austria 0
De La Salle (62)
Van Opstal 13, Vosotros 9, Tampus 9, Torres 8, Revilla 6, Villanueva 6, Atkins 4, de la Paz 3, Paredes 2, Webb 2, Gotladera 0, Mendoza 0, Marata 0
Quarter scoring: 14-11, 31-26, 53-42, 79-62
Thanks Aly Yap for the pictures