UAAP Finals: DLSU rallies from 21 down to force Game 3

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Ben Mbala and DLSU will meet archrival Ateneo in a winner-take-all Game 3 of the UAAP Finals

De La Salle University was down for the count after two quarters of Game 2 of the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Then MVP Ben Mbala and Mythical selection Ricci Rivero came alive.

With Mbala and Rivero bringing the fight, the Green Archers battled back from 21 points behind to shock strong-starting Ateneo de Manila University, 92-83, on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum. 

Going on an unbelievable 40-10 tear to take away both the advantage and the momentum, DLSU will live to fight another day in its title defense.

The defending champions were at the wrong end of a 24-9 opening blitz by the Blue Eagles which then ballooned to a 49-28 lead at the 3:23 mark of the second quarter.

It was at that point that Mbala, Rivero, and Andrei Caracut got together to fuel a 40-10 explosion which, all of a sudden, put them in front, 68-59, to end the third quarter.

From there, Aaron Black was the only one left fighting for Ateneo and pulled his team within 70-74 inside the last six minutes only to see the MVP, the Mythical selection, and Caracut again join forces for an 11-2 answer that re-increased the Green Archer edge to 85-72.

Not long after, DLSU ensured that the rivalry series will be going the distance with Game 3 scheduled for Sunday still at the same venue.

In all, the Taft-based team buried their opponents, 53-27, in the middle periods.

Clearly, that took the fight out of Ateneo.

Mbala wound up with a 20-point, 16-rebound double-double to go along with four blocks while Rivero added 18 points, five rebounds, and four assists – most coming even though he picked up his fourth foul.

Caracut also turned in his best game of the season with 13 points, seven coming in the third quarter.

At the other end, mayhem stymied Game 1 heroes Matt and Mike Nieto to only a combined 10 points in 4-of-20 shooting.

In the place of those two, Thirdy Ravena and Black topped the scoring column with 20 and 15 points, respectively.

Those two didn’t have much help in the second half, however, and were ultimately unable to prevent the monumental meltdown.

BOX SCORES

DLSU 92 – Mbala 20, Rivero R 18, Caracut 13, Melecio 12, Montalbo 9, Santillan 8, Rivero P 8, Tratter 4, Tero 0, Go 0, Baltazar 0

ATENEO 83 – Ravena 20, Black 15, Asistio 13, Go 11, Nieto Ma 10, Ikeh 6, Mendoza 5, Tolentino 2, Tio 1, Verano 0, Nieto Mi 0, Mamuyac 0, Porter 0

QUARTER SCORES: 15-32, 42-51, 68-59, 92-83

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