Balungay Ballungay: Most Valuable Player. AsiaBasket photo

Ateneo rolls back St. Benilde to win title

July 31, 2023 Robert Andaya 379 views

ATENEO de Manila University crowned itself as the inaugural champion in the 2023 Bola.TV AsiaBasket Las Pinas Championship.

Led by Ian Espinosa and Fil-Am Kai Ballungay, Ateneo withstood a gallant stand by College of St. Benilde, 60-57, to capture the championship with a seven-game sweep.

Espinosa stepped up for the Blue Eagles with 15 points, two rebounds, one assist, and two steals, while Ballungay, who was voted as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, added a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and one block.

Will Gozum carried the fight for St. Benilde with 12 points, four rebounds, two assists, one block, and two steals.

Unlike in their first meeting, the Katipunan-based Blue Eagles needed a strong finish to frustrate the Blazers and came just close to giving them a dent.

After a tight first half, Ateneo tried to pull away and opened an 11-point lead, 48-37, with still three and a half minutes left in the third quarter.

St. Benilde, however, came back strong and even took a 51-50 advantage early in the fourth quarter.

The Blue Eagles reclaimed the lead, but the Blazers kept the game close and interesting with their tight defense.

With Ateneo nursing a precarious three-point lead, St. Benilde had two chances to send the game into overtime.

But Migs Oczon missed a well-designed corner three-point shot off a St. Benilde timeout.

After Joseph Obasa missed two free throws that could have iced the game for Ateneo, Prince Carlos misfired a pull-up three of his own from the right wing as time expired.

Meanwhile, Sanzar Pharmaceuticals rode on a monster game by Raoul Odou to roll back Corsa Tires, 95-88, to clinch third place.

Odou finished with 21 points, 18 rebounds, and seven assists to lead Sanzar.

Tony Unot and actor Gerald Anderson paced Corsa with 18 and 17 points, respectively.

The scores:

First game

Sanzar (95) – Odou 21, Kawamura 17, Torres 12, Kone 12, Ondoa 11, Obuyes 8, Calapine 4, Famaranco 4, Villapando 2, Abaoag 2, F. Lanzar 2, L. Lanzar 0, Jolangcob 0, Mailim 0
Corsa (88) – Ynot 18, Anderson 17, Sanchez 14, Cunanan 14, Lepalam 10, Pagulayan 8, Acosta 3, Ollano 2, Kapunan 2, Macatangay 0, Edralin 0
Quarterscores: 23-17, 45-43, 71-58, 95-88

Second game

Ateneo (60) – Espinosa 15, Ballungay 12, Obasa 8, Chiu 7, Bongo 7, Amos 5, Quitevis 4, Tuano 2, Koon 0, Gomez 0, Credo 0, Lazaro 0, Nieto 0, Celis 0
St. Benilde (57)– Gozum 12, Nayve 11, Carlos 8, Sangco 6, Corteza 6, Oczon 5, Arciaga 4, Mara 3, Turco 2, Marasigan 0, Cajucom 0, Davis 0, Jarque 0
Quarterscores: 21-15, 33-29, 50-45, 60-57.