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Ian Espinosa lifts Ateneo past Benilde, rules Asiabasket Las Pinas


Ateneo de Manila University secured the 2023 Bola.TV AsiaBasket Las Piñas Championship title after a thrilling 60-57 victory over Benilde on Sunday at the Villar Coliseum in Las Piñas City.

Ian Espinosa emerged as the unsung hero for the Blue Eagles in this low-scoring championship match, leading his team with 15 points despite averaging only five points a game. Ateneo completed the tournament sweep with a flawless 7-0 record.

Kai Ballungay was named the 2023 Bola.TV AsiaBasket Las Piñas Championship Most Valuable Player, boasting an impressive average of 17.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.

“Coming into the tournament, I didn’t play for any individual recognition or anything like that. I just wanted to do my job for this team, and my teammates put me in the position to do my job, so I give it all to them,” Ballungay said when asked about the leadership role he took for Ateneo throughout the season.

He also achieved a double-double in this game with 12 points and 10 boards.

Ateneo’s defense proved pivotal, holding Benilde to a 42% shooting rate (16-of-38) from the field, aided by nine team blocks.

Joe Obasa, contributing eight points, played a solid role in the paint, grabbing 16 rebounds and recording four blocks to bolster Ateneo’s title bid.

On the other hand, Migs Oczon struggled for the Blazers, scoring only five points on a 1-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc. He still put up eight rebounds and six assists.

Will Gozum, who was part of the first team, contributed 12 points, two steals, and one block, while Robi Nayve registered 11 points and five rebounds, but the Blazers still fell short against the hard-fighting Blue Eagles.

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Meanwhile, in the battle-for-third match, Sanzar Pharmaceuticals clinched the bronze medal by defeating Gerald Anderson and Corsa Tires 95-88.

Adeshokan Odou was honored with the AsiaBasket Las Piñas Championship Best Import Award, boasting an average of 24.5 points and 14.8 rebounds per game.

Ian Torres made it to the All AsiaBasket Las Piñas Championship Second Team with an average of 14.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game.  (Jose Gabriel Ignacio)

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