Thirty seconds into the overtime period, Almond Vosotros found himself flanked at the corner near the halfcourt line by a couple of UE players, both of them desperately flailing their hands in an attempt to shut him out and force him to take a contested shot. With the shot clock winding down, the guard from Albay took the shot, one which makes a coach usually scratch the back of his head, and the leather found the bottom of the net to break the deadlock between the two teams for the last time.
In the Archers’ ensuing possession, it was Jeron Teng who found himself open and nailed a jumper from seventeen feet. Less than a minute later and it was Jason Perkins who rattled in a three-pointer, his second of the contest, from the top of the key. The lead was only five points, but Red Warriors Coach Boysie Zamar has seen enough and elected to burn his last time-out.
In a game where they shot 37.3% through the first four quarters, the Green Archers suddenly found the mark during the game’s extra session, in a game where they trailed most of the way. And what a time for it to come.
After forging an overtime period, La Salle made all six of their field goals along with five free throws during the five extra minutes to pull away late from the UE Red Warriors, 75-65, earlier today at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in the second round of the UAAP.
The win is La Salle’s fifth straight, which marks their longest winning streak since 2008, when the team was still bannered by the likes of JV Casio and Rico Maierhofer, and puts them in a tie with idle FEU Tamaraws with an 8-4 win-loss record, just a game behind the league’s pace-setter, the NU Bulldogs, which owns a 9-3 card.
Perkins turned in a career-best 22 points on 9-for-11 shooting clip, while also adding nine boards, two assists, and a couple of blocks. Teng, who struggled in the middle quarters after scoring two quick buckets early in the game, found his rhythm during the payoff period and overtime, as he scored a 13 of his 17 markers during this period, to go with seven rebounds and four assists. Vosotros, who kept La Salle afloat in a plodding and turnover-plagued first half, finished with 16 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Down by as much as ten, 31-21, midway through the second quarter, after an and-one basket by Roi Sumang, who led the Warriors with 17 points, three rebounds and three assists, although he did cough up the ball six times. La Salle, however, responded with a 9-2 blitz capped by a three-pointer from LA Revilla, to pull to within 30-33. Sumang, however, was fouled with only 2.4 ticks left on the clock and canned both free throws to give UE a five-point spread, 35-30, at the half, with the Archers’ five three-pointers buoying them despite having 11 turnovers and yielding 14 offensive rebounds to the Warriors.
After stretching the lead to nine points, 39-30, after a turnaround jumper by JM Noble, Perkins anchored a nine-to-nothing run for the Green Archers as they knotted the count for only the second time at 39. Both teams were awarded a combined ten free throws in the ensuing possessions, until Sumang punctuated the quarter with a basket with four seconds left as UE clung to a 45-41 lead after three quarters.
A Chris Javier basket would once more hand the Warriors a six-point advantage at 49-43, almost halfway through the fourth, before Teng scored back-to-back baskets to trim the UE lead to just two, although baskets by Sumang and Noble would later increase their lead. Thomas Torres, returning from a one-game suspension which he served last Sunday against Ateneo, later sank two crucial charities that allowed La Salle to tie the game for the third time at 53, a minute and forty-four left on the clock.
In the next possession, however, Torres was whistled for a foul on Sumang, who was taking a three-point shot, although replays showed that Torres jumped to avoid contact with Sumang, who was coming down after having taken the shot. Sumang nevertheless made two out of his three free throws, padding the Warriors’ lead to two.
Arnold Van Opstal, who finished with nine points, six rebounds, two blocks, and an assist made one of two from the charity stripe when he was fouled, cutting UE’s lead to one with less than a minute left in regulation. The Archers made a crucial stop on the other end, and with 13.9 seconds remaining, Perkins pulled up for a tough jumper near the free throw line to give La Salle its first lead since the first canto, 56-55.
Norbert Torres, however, fouled Sumang in UE’s final possession, only 4.7 ticks left in the game. Sumang made one of two, tying the game at 56, and Teng missed a potential game-winner after running the length of the court, sending the game into overtime.
But in the extra session of a game wherein points have been hard to come by, La Salle outscored the Warriors 19-9, after starting overtime with a 10-3 scoring run to give them a 66-59 cushion. UE elected to foul Teng on several instances to stop the clock, but the former Xavier Stallion made five of eight freebies to douse any hopes of a comeback for the Red Warriors.
The returning Torres, meanwhile, was a key factor in stopping Sumang in overtime, playing great on-ball defense and forcing the former Letran Squire to a crucial turnover in the last minute of the extension period, thereby sealing the win for La Salle. Backstopping Sumang is Noble, who finished with 17, while Gino Jumao-as gave UE a lift off the pine as he finished with 13 points.
Defense has been a key for the Archers in their winning run, as they have only yielded an average of 65.4 points to their opponents in the second round, as compared to giving up 74 points in the first round.
Notes: During the halftime break of the NU Bulldogs-UP Fighting Maroons tiff and roughly an hour before the La Salle-UE game, the UAAP Board announced that the two-game suspension on UE’s Charles Mammie has been lifted, since he had already served a one-game suspension during their game against NU, thus allowing him to suit up in the game against the Archers. Mammie finished with 11 points and 20 rebounds; Ralf Olivares did not suit up for the Warriors as he served his suspension for his actions during their game against the Bulldogs;
The Next Game: La Salle will try to go for its sixth straight win this Sunday, September 8, against the white-hot NU Bulldogs, who top the league with a 9-3 win-loss record and are riding on a six game winning run. Game time is a 4 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.
La Salle 75- Perkins-22 Teng-17, Vosotros-16, Van Opstal-9, T. Torres-6, Revilla-3, N. Torres-2, Reyes-0, Montalbo-0, Dela Paz-0, Salem-0,
UE-65- Sumang-17, Noble-17, Jumao-as-13, Mammie-11, Casajeros-2, Javier-2, Sumido-2, Alberto-1, Santos-0, Hernandez-0, Pujante-0, Flores-0 Olayon-0 Guion-0
Quarterscores: 14-21, 30-35, 41-45, 56-56, 75-65 (OT)