La Salle players celebrate at the buzzer after sealing a clutch victory over rival Ateneo.

La Salle players celebrate at the buzzer after sealing a clutch victory over rival Ateneo.
Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

La Salle hotshot Schonny Winston had been looking forward to meeting Ateneo in another chapter of both schools’ epic rivalry. So when D-day came, the prolific two-way guard knew exactly what to do.

Winston came through in the clutch with a pair of key jumpers, leading the Green Archers past the Blue Eagles, 83-78, on Sunday at the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament.


“It was definitely a game in our schedule for a long time, so I was doing everything I could to win,’’ said Winston after a steady 25-point performance at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Winston pulled up with a short stab that gave them a breather and dropped in a floater from the corner to put the Archers comfortably ahead by six before La Salle’s defensive crackdown on Ateneo iced the victory.


“We put in more effort this time because this (Ateneo) is a bigger team. We just wanted to win this game badly,’’ said Winston.

Evan Nelle, instrumental for pushing La Salle ahead and restraining rising star Forthsky Padrigao all game long, swished a pair of free throws to seal the win, the Green Archers’ first over the Blue Eagles since Game 2 of the Season 80 finals that Ateneo won five years ago.

“I used that as motivation the other day in practice. Hats off to my guys. We really prepared for Ateneo and really worked hard,’’ said La Salle coach Derrick Pumaren. “I told them to never doubt that we can match up with Ateneo and they showed it in today’s game.’’

The Green Archers’ defense bottled up Ange Kouame in the critical moments. Kouame was at the center of Ateneo’s early charge and finished with 22 points and had 10 offensive boards. More importantly, the La Salle defense shut down Ateneo’s wing production.

“We did a good job containing the paint and defending their three-point shots. We were able to get Padrigao out of his comfort zone,’’ said Pumaren.Padrigao, the starting guard who led the Blue Eagles to victory in their first two games before absorbing a lot of defensive attention in college basketball’s classic rivalry, made only two of his 18 shots from the field, including going one of 12 from the three-point range.

“Part of the game plan was to defend the perimeter. We’re glad we were able to do that in the last three quarters,’’ said Pumaren.

Nelle added 10 points for La Salle, his three and a fastbreak off a steal in the fourth altering the complexion of the match for good.


In the other game, Jhon Lloyd Clemente and Jhay Baclaan propelled the National University (NU) Bulldogs to a nerve-wracking 69-63 win over the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers.

Clemente sealed NU’s second victory in three games by sinking four free throws inside the final minute that preserved the game-long brilliance of Baclaan against his former team.

“We played a really bad game last time. We forget about that Ateneo game and focused on this one,’’ said Baclaan, who had four threes and posted a similar 16-point output with Clemente.

Nic Cabanero’s three with 10.2 seconds remaining pulled them within four, but it turned out his flubbed freebies early on proved critical in the end for the Growling Tigers.

“We did well in the third quarter, but we need to address our tendency to relax. We cannot do that once we meet the defending champions (University of the Philippines) on Wednesday,’’ said NU coach Jeff Napa.

Cabanero muffed four of his last seven free throws in the waning minutes, after the Tigers clawed back from 18 points down and finished with 16 points.

“We simply lack the fighting spirit that we used to have in the first three quarters,’’ said Cabanero after shooting five of 16 from the field and going five of 11 from charity stripe.

The Tigers thrived on running the breaks, but shot a measly 24 of 65 from the floor, including clanking 14 of 16 attempts from beyond the arc.

“This is the first time in my coaching career that my team finished with zero fastbreak points. We probably forgot how to run. In our next game, we shouldn’t fall in a similar situation if we want to win against the big boys,’’ said Napa. INQ

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