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Nieto brothers lift Ateneo to 1-0 lead over La Salle



Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Nieto brothers lift Ateneo to 1-0 lead over La Salle ADMU Basketball DLSU News UAAP  UAAP Season 80 Men's Basketball UAAP Season 80 Tab Baldwin Mike Nieto Matt Nieto DLSU Men's Basketball Ben Mbala Ateneo Men's Basketball Aljun Melecio Aldin Ayo

Drawing inspired outings from twins Matt and Mike Nieto, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles were able to overcome a late De La Salle University Green Archers flurry, taking a 76-70 victory in Game One of the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Basketball Finals.

Ateneo can clinch their first championship since 2012 on Wednesday, November 30, at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Blue Eagles were able to limit Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala to his career-low eight points on just seven attempts from the field amd six attempts from the charity stripe.

“We couldn’t play Ben Mbala straight up one on one. We needed all of our five guys to come up and do the roles in order to slow down Ben. That was important for us,” said Ateneo assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga.

It was a highly-physical contest that saw 47 fouls called. Moreover, Matt Nieto was bloodied up with 36.6 seconds remaining in the first half, having suffered a nasty cut above his left eye after an accidental elbow by Mbala.

Seeing his brother bloodied up, Mike Nieto came alive in the second half.

“Well to be honest, nung nahulog si Matt, noong nasiko siya ni Ben, kung makikita niyo sa video, I threw the towel on the floor kasi parang nasaktan din ako nung natamaan si Matt,” shared Mike. “I didn’t want to retaliate by hurting La Salle physically or punching them, I just wanted to win the game.”

With La Salle slicing Ateneo’s 13-point lead down to just two entering the final frame, Mike Nieto scored seven straight points to start the final frame. From there, Tyler Tio knocked down a turnaround jumper with 6:35 left to extend their lead to 10, 69-59, with 6:35 left.

Matt Nieto finished with 11 points, scoring just two points in the second half, while Mike Nieto scored an identical 11 points to go along with five rebounds.

Behind a resurgent Aljun Melecio, the Green Archers ground it out with the Blue Eagles. In an instant, the defending champions were able to cut the lead to just a solitary point, 71-70, with 2:31 left, as Melecio scored seven markers in an 11-2 run.

Thirdy Ravena was able to stop the bleeding with an undergo stab. Then La Salle suddenly went cold from the field, while a Ravena find to Isaac Go underneath for an and-one play with 10.4 seconds left to seal the win.

Ravena finished with 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists. The Blue Eagles as a team went to the line 30 times, converting on 20.

Struggling since he suffered from dengue fever last October, Melecio, a sophomore guard, finished with a game-high 24 points, spiked by five triples. Ricci Rivero added 10 markers.

A win on Wednesday for La Salle will extend the series to a winner-take-all bout on Saturday, December 3. An Atenean victory will bag them the Season 80 title.

The Scores:

ADMU 76 – Ravena 12, Nieto Ma 11, Nieto Mi 11, Asistio 10, Tolentino 9, Black 7, Verano 5, Go 5, Ikeh 4, Tio 2, Mamuyac 0, Mendoza 0, Porter 0

DLSU 70 – Melecio 24, Rivero R 10, Mbala 8, Tratter 7, Santillan 7, Rivero P 7, Baltazar 4, Montalbo 3, Caracut 0, Go 0, Tero 0, Paraiso 0

Quarterscores: 26-14, 43-39, 60-58, 76-70