Won game that got away. Archers falter in endgame in overtime loss to Tamaraws

Luigi Dela Paz was found open by a teammate at the left wing behind and was handed the leather. The De La Salle- Zobel standout buried a triple, his third of the contest, and La Salle’s lead ballooned to thirteen, 73-60, with 2:36 left in the game, forcing the FEU Tamaraws to sue for time.

Everything was clicking for La Salle, and they seemed minutes away from dealing the Tams their first setback of the season. But what followed was an unlikely run by the Tamaraws as they clambered from the deficit to force an extra session. And during the five-minute extension, it was La Salle who sputtered down the stretch as they absorbed their second setback in the UAAP, 83-79, earlier today at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Out of that FEU timeout engineered by mentor Nash Racela, Terrence Romeo immediately nailed a three-pointer, cutting the lead back to ten. After a putback by Arnold Van Opstal off a Jeron Teng miss, Romeo once more connected from long distance that cut the lead to nine, 75-66. After an empty possession by La Salle, Tamaraw Mark Belo scored and completed an and-one play, before Jeron Teng was whistled for his second foul on Carl Cruz. The latter sank both of his pressure-packed free throws, and this time it was La Salle who called a timeout as their lead dwindled to four, 75-71, with time down to 48 ticks.

A turnover by the Green Archers then left the door ajar for FEU, and they would capitalize as RR Garcia scored on a lay-up that brought the Tamaraws within a basket. After exhausting their team fouls, it was Almond Vosotros who found himself in the loneliest spot in the MOA Arena- the free-throw line, and he would miss both of his charities, allowing FEU a chance to tie the contest.
Belo would complete the Tamaraws’ comeback as he scored inside to knot the count at 75 with 14 seconds left in regulation. La Salle had a chance to avoid an extra five minutes, but a shot by Teng danced on the rim before falling out.

Van Opstal would begin the extra session with another bucket against the foul-beleaguered bigs of the Tamaraws, but this would prove to be La Salle’s last field goal. Garcia tied the game for the last time, and after a split at the free-throw line by Teng, another fastbreak lay-up by Garcia gave the Tamaraws the upperhand for good.

A putback by Roger Pogoy on the next Tamaraw possession gave his team an 81-78 lead, with two minutes left in overtime. La Salle would get several cracks at the basket to try and cut into the FEU lead, and Teng was finally sent to the free-throw line with only 22 seconds left. Teng would miss both charities but would get the offensive board as he fished another foul from the side of the Tamaraws.
But after making the first free throw, the second one clanged off the rim, and the Archers were forced to foul Romeo, who sank both his freebies and gave his team a two-possession lead that would prove to be the final nail in the coffin for the Archers.

A quick start by the Tamaraws during the first quarter, which saw them lead by as much as eight, was weathered by the Green Archers as they ended the quarter on a booming triple by Vosotros, who finished with eight, to lead by four 21-17, at the end of the first. The Tamaraws, however, made a run of their own, with a Belo putback finally allowing them to wrest the lead from La Salle, which they maintained until halftime. But just like their previous game against the Blue Eagles, La Salle would come out from the locker rooms to score 24 points in the third, the last on a putback by Teng near the buzzer, that allowed them to carry a slim 58-54 advantage to the payoff period.

Teng paced the Archers in scoring with 25 points (15 in the first half) to go along with 15 boards (seven offensive) and four assists. Teng shot 46% from the field, but made only three of his eleven free throws, which reflected the team’s 13-for-26 (50%) shooting clip from the line. Van Opstal, who scored 18 last Sunday against Ateneo, turned in his finest performance in the UAAP so far, scoring 20 points, grabbing 11 boards, blocking three shots, and dishing an assist. Rookie Jason Perkins finished with a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds.

For the Tamaraws, Romeo equaled Teng’s 25 points, while Garcia finished with 19, with 12 of them in the fourth and in overtime. La Salle’s second overtime loss (the first being this game against UST) brought down their record to 2-2, while allowing the Tamaraws to escape with an unblemished 4-0 record atop the standings.

The Next Game: The Archers will try to erase the stigma of this overtime loss when they lock horns with Roi Sumang and the UE Red Warriors this Saturday.

Box Scores

FEU- 83- Romeo-25, Garcia-19, Belo-10, Tolomia-9, Pogoy-9, Hargrove-4, Cruz-4, Mendoza-2, Jose-1, Sentcheu-0

DLSU- 79- Teng-25, Van Opstal-20, Perkins-10, Dela Paz-9, Vosotros-8, T. Torres-4, Revilla-3, N. Torres-0, Tampus-0, Reyes-0, Montalbo-0, Bolick-0

Quarterscores: 17-21, 35-34, 58-54, 75-75, 83-79 (OT)