Archers storm back from 21 points, edge Eagles to force Game 3
De La Salle University and UAAP's back-to-back Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala takes the rock to the rack during the Game 2 of the UAAP Finals at the Smart-Araneta Colisuem on Wednesday night. | Philstar.com/Jonathan Asuncion
MANILA, Philippines — Trailing by as many as 21 points, De La Salle University dug deep in during the halftime break.
By the third period, they returned to the Big Dome’s parquet floor on Wednesday night with guns blazing. Losing their series opener on Saturday, they made sure to live to play one more time for the UAAP men’s basketball championship, pulling the rug on Ateneo de Manila University, 92-83.
The Green Archers rode another stellar performance by Ben Mbala, who was formally crowned league Most Valuable Player for the second straight year. He asserted his dominance on the floor, making plays on both offensive and defensive ends.
Ricci Rivero — feted as the season’s Most Improved Player — also contributed. He helped keep the Blue Eagles at bay, negating a strong 32-point opening period by Ateneo.
Aaron Black tried to revive the Ateneo offense but to no avail.
The Archers, who dealt Ateneo its lone defeat in the elimination, continued to play like who they are before a crowd of 15,286 — like champions.
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And as the game wound down, they kept on doing so.
La Salle and Ateneo will battle for all the marbles on Sunday again at the Big Dome at 4 p.m.