De La Salle University survived Ateneo de Manila University in an 86-83 thriller to secure the 38th Kadayawan Invitational Basketball Tournament championship title on Sunday at the University of Southeastern Philippines Gym in Davao City.
This is La Salle’s second preseason title, also winning the PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
Evan Nelle was named Finals Most Valuable Player after boasting an all-around performance of 22 points, four rebounds, six assists, and four steals.
Michael Phillips posted a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Kevin Quiambao and CJ Austria both contributed 11 points as the Green Archers spoiled what could have been the Blue Eagles’ third preseason title.
Ateneo had previously won both the recent Pinoyliga and AsiaBasket championships.
At the end of the third quarter, the Blue Eagles were trailing by nine, 66-75.
AsiaBasket Tournament MVP Kai Ballungay scored nine of his 18 points during Ateneo’s 13-3 run in the clutch minutes of the fourth quarter, reducing De La Salle’s lead to just two, 83-85, with 19.6 seconds left in regulation.
Ballungay also secured 10 rebounds, completing a double-double for himself.
The Blue Eagles had a chance to execute a final play to force the game into overtime, but Ian Espinosa committed a crucial five-second violation during Ateneo’s last inbound play, with 9.3 seconds left on the clock.
This error prevented the Blue Eagles from capitalizing on a potential game-sealing free throw missed by Nelle, which allowed De La Salle to maintain a narrow three-point lead, 83-86.
Nelle missed two more crucial free throws, as he was fouled intentionally by Ateneo with 8.1 seconds remaining in the game. However, Jared Brown failed to make the contested three-point shot that could have sent the game into overtime for the Blue Eagles.
Despite Ateneo’s nail-biting loss, Joe Obasa registered a near-double-double with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Brown contributed 11 points.
Meanwhile, Adamson University notched third place after beating College of Saint Benilde, 79-69.
The Green Archers went 2-1 in the elimination round, beating Jose Maria College Foundation (118-88) and Adamson (89-72).
The Blue Eagles, meanwhile, went undefeated in the elimination phase, defeating De La Salle University (89-86), San Beda University (73-66), and College of Saint Benilde (79-63). (Jose Gabriel Ignacio)
DLSU 86 — Nelle 22, M. Phillipps 12, Quiambao 11, Austria 11, B. Phillips 9, Escandor 6, Manuel 5, Cortez 5, Nonoy 3, Nwankwo 2, Marasigan 0, Abadam 0, David 0, Macalalag 0
Ateneo 83 — Obasa 20, Ballungay 18, Brown 11, Espinosa 9, Chiu 8, Credo 6, Koon 4, Tuano 3, Amos 2, Gomez 0, Nieto 0
Quarterscores: 27-22, 50-46, 75-66, 86-83