UAAP: De La Salle ends five-year losing streak to Ateneo

The Green Archers celebrate after ending their five-year losing streak to Ateneo. (Naveen Ganglani Facebook)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

For the first time in five years, the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers ended its losing spell to rival school Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles.

The combination of grit, effort, and the will to win steered the green and white nation to an 83-78 victory in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament held at the Araneta Coliseum.

Heading into the highly-anticipated rivalry matchup, DLSU’s last win over Ateneo was way back on November 29, 2017 when Aldin Ayo was still calling the shots for the Green Archers.

Now with a more complete and revamped squad aiming to bring back the chip to Taft, the Green Archers showed they wanted it more against Ateneo and stayed composed despite trailing most of the game.

Reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP) Ange Kouame led an early Ateneo onslaught in the first quarter to help the Blue Eagles gain early confidence after establishing a 12-point lead, 28-16.

Just when Ateneo thought they could maintain their pace and snowball their way in the second quarter, the Green Archers waxed hot to quickly erase the Blue Eagles’ double-digit lead in just two minutes.

Aside from their offense picking up, DLSU’s stinging defense finally did wonders for them and held the Blue Eagles scoreless for four minutes in the second quarter.

However, the Blue Eagles uncorked another offensive run and ended the first half with a one-point lead, 47-46, led by BJ Andrade’s timely three-point shooting.

The second half went to a more intense nip-and-tuck affair as expected as DLSU’s Schonny Winston went berserk mode to answer every Ateneo basket.

Ateneo hang on to a three-point lead with six minutes left in the game but a series of clutch shots propelled the Green Archers to an impressive 12-3 run in the crucial stretch of the fourth quarter.

Winston buried two cold-blooded perimeter jump shots in two straight DLSU possessions that gave them an 81-76 lead with only a minute remaining.

Forthsky Padrigao tried his best to help Ateneo stay within striking distance after hitting a trey but Evan Nelle cashed in DLSU’s two most important free throws to give the hard-earned win to the Green Archers.

Winston led DLSU with 25 points, six assists, five rebounds, and two steals backstopped by Nelle who chipped in 10 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

Meanwhile, Ateneo will have the chance to redeem themselves tomorrow as they face the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers.