De La Salle University made sure to extend its winning streak to eight games in another epic clash with arch-rival Ateneo de Manila University that might have sealed them a twice-to-beat edge in the UAAP Season 86 Men's Basketball Final Four.
The Green Archers survived to deny the defending champions Blue Eagles an outright semis spot, 72-69, in front of 14,900 fans at the SMART Araneta Coliseum, Saturday.
La Salle ended the eliminations with an 11-3 record.
A win by University of the Philippines (11-2) against National University (10-3) tomorrow will give the Green Archers the second seed. However, an NU win by less than 39 points will give La Salle the top seed in the triple tie due to superior quotient over the other two teams.
"It's really a surreal feeling playing against Ateneo with this crowd," said Green Archers head coach Topex Robinson about the jampacked Big Dome clad in a sea of green and blue.
"We just slug it out with them, we were ahead most of the time but we know they're gonna fight their way through but I've guessed we've learned from our mistakes the first time we played them," the former Phoenix Super LPG and Lyceum head coach continued.
Ateneo dropped to 7-7 and will now be interested spectators of the clash between Adamson University (6-7) and University of the East tomorrow. A win by the Falcons will force a playoff for the last semis ticket with the Blue Eagles.
A fadeaway jumper by Chris Koon with 36.9 seconds left pulled the Blue Eagles to within three, 67-70, before they forced the Green Archers to commit a turnover in the next play.
Jared Brown then launched a three-pointer in a bid to tie the game with 17 seconds to go but he missed, needing to send Evan Nelle to the line on the other end, calmly sinking both for a La Salle five-point lead with 12.1 ticks remaining, 72-67.
Already without a timeout, Ateneo ran the length of the court and was able to score a deuce by Joseph Obasa but time was not on their side with 3.4 seconds on the clock.
Mike Phillips missed both his freebies giving the Blue Eagles one last chance for a miracle but Brown's halfcourt shot was way short.
"Happy ako na nakuha namin yung panalo. Kahit hard-fought game nga nagstick pa rin kami sa system. Tapos na itong Ateneo, focus na kami sa Final Four," said Kevin Quiambao, who showed the way with 14 points, nine rebounds, six assists, a steal, and a block.
Nelle and Mark Nonoy added 10 points apiece while Phillips returned with a huge double-double performance of 10 points and 14 rebounds along with four assists, four steals, and two blocks.
For the Blue Eagles, Obasa was a force with 21 points, nine rebounds, three blocks, and two steals.
Kai Ballungay and Mason Amos came through as well with 12 and 10 points, respectively, but Brown had a woeful game of 1-of-12 from the field, finishing with just three points.
DLSU 72 – Quiambao 14, Nelle 10, M. Phillips 10, Nonoy 10, Policarpio 9, Austria 6, David 6, Abadam 4, Cortez 2, Escandor 1, Manuel 0, Macalalag 0.
Ateneo 69 – Obasa 21, Ballungay 12, Amos 10, Koon 9, Credo 4, Espinosa 4, Quitevis 4, Brown 3, Lazaro 2, Nieto 0, Chiu 0.
Quarterscores: 14-17, 35-32, 51-46, 72-69