29 seconds were left on the game clock, and the Archers were down by the slimmest of margins, 73-72, against the Tigers. UST’s mentor Pido Jarencio had just called for a ceasefire after a hoop-and-harm basket by Jeron Teng to map out his charges’ offensive plan.
As the play resumed, however, La Salle turned the tables on whatever directive the Tigers received in the huddle as the Archers stole the leather from Aljon Mariano after he bungled a pass from teammate Kevin Ferrer and sprinted down the other end of the court to try to score the game-winning basket.
LA Revilla, guarded near the halfcourt line by Tiger Sheak Sheriff, patiently wound down the clock while dribbling the ball. Revilla then made a move towards the basket and passed to a wide open Almond Vosotros, who hoisted a shot from long range that hit the rim before bouncing out.
Time was down to five, four, three seconds, but La Salle’s bigs managed to recycle their offense, and Revilla found the leather once more in his hands before attempting jumpshot. The leather was blocked by Karim Abdul, and Sheriff, Abdul, and a couple of Archers dived for the loose ball as it sailed out of bounds.
The remaining Archers on the bench, the coaching staff, management, and the La Salle gallery all pointed to their side of the court as the refs deliberated on who should have possession of the basketball. But the time had run out, and the UST players, coaching staff, and their mammoth crowd are already celebrating their victory.
After being down by as much as sixteen during the first quarter, the Green Archers fought tooth-and-nail against the Growling Tigers right until the game’s dying seconds, before faltering towards the end, 73-72, in Game 1 of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Finals earlier today at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. The loss ends La Salle’s impressive nine-game winning run through the second round of eliminations and the Final Four and brings the Tigers on the cusp of their first title since 2006.
After a scintillating third period where they outscored their opponents, 23-12, La Salle clung to a four-point lead, 54-50, entering the game’s final ten minutes, and were poised to nail their first win in the Last Dance since 2007. Jeric Teng, however, netted five quick points to give the advantage to UST, 55-54, with Kevin Ferrer also adding another triple.
After back-to-back baskets by Abdul were followed by a sixteen-foot jumper from Sheriff, the Tigers’ lead has ballooned to five, 64-59, with time down to four minutes and change. La Salle, however, was far from done, and a triple by Almond Vosotros would bring them right back into the thick of things.
After two misses from the line by Sheriff and Norbert Torres, Aljon Mariano would score his only points in the contest, padding UST’s lead to four, 66-62. Thomas Torres split his charities on the other end for La Salle, while Abdul made both for the Tigers in the ensuing possession.
Five points stood between the teams, with two minutes left, before Jason Perkins calmly buried a triple near the top of the key to bring the Archers to within two, 68-66, but Jeric Teng bucked the double team of Revilla and Vosotros and scored on a jumper to give his team some separation, 70-66.
Arnold Van Opstal canned both his charities, while Teng made one of two for La Salle to cut UST’s advantage to a single point, before Ferrer drained the last of his five triples to give the Tigers a 73-69 lead, setting the stage for Teng’s and-one basket and the game’s ulcer-inducing finish.
The Tigers, last year’s finalists, gave the Archers a baptism of fire early in the contest, storming out of the gates at the start and leading by as much as sixteen, 18-2, with four minutes left in the first canto after a triple by Ferrer. La Salle, however, recovered from this onslaught and ended the quarter down by ten, 13-23, behind seven points from Vosotros.
Further cutting into the advantage of the Tigers were the Archers, as they began the second period with a 10-2 run to finally tie the contest at 25, on a basket by Arnold Van Opstal. The elder Teng, however, bore the cudgels for the Tigers after Ferrer and Abdul did the task during the first quarter, as he rattled nine points in the period to give UST a 38-31 lead at the half.
But after the intermission, La Salle answered right back with an 11-nil blitz of their own, capped by a jumper by Vosotros, to give his team the advantage, 40-38. Abdul, Daquioag, and Sheriff would score baskets for the Tigers to give them a three-point edge, but the Archers would end the period on a 10-3 burst as they headed into the game’s last ten minutes bearing a 54-50 lead.
Vosotros finally broke out of a slump to lead the Archers with 20 points, two rebounds, an assist, and a steal, while Teng added 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block. Van Opstal wound up with 13 markers, five boards, a couple of assists, and a block, while Perkins finished with a double-double of 11 points and 11 boards, while adding two assists.
Ferrer led the Tigers with 20 points (5-for-8 from distance), six caroms, an assist, a steal, and a rejection, while Abdul added 19 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks. Teng also scored in double figures for the Tigers, as he added 17 points, seven boards, and three dimes.
As a team, the Tigers shot a higher 43.3% as compared to the 37.5% of the Archers, while also having more assists, 11-10, and three-pointers, 7-4. La Salle, however, had more rebounds, 44-43 (18-7 on the offensive glass), second chance points, 12-2, and did a better job of taking care of the leather, having five less turnovers than the Tigers (14-9). Both teams made a total of fourteen free throws, but the Archers had three more attempts as compared to their opponents (14-for-22 as compared to 14-for-19).
Notes: Rookie Matt Salem will be sidelined for the Finals series because of having mumps, and did not suit up in the game earlier;
The Next Game: With their backs against the wall, La Salle will be looking to avenge their loss against the Growling Tigers in Game 2 of the Finals this Saturday, October 5, 3:30 pm at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum;
UST- 73- Ferrer-20, Abdul-19, Teng-17, Sheriff-6, Daquioag-4, Bautista-3, Mariano-2, Lao-2, Pe-0, Lo-0
DLSU- 72- Vosotros-20, Teng-15, Van Opstal-13, Perkins-11, T. Torres-7, Revilla-4, N. Torres-2, Tampus-0, Reyes-0, Montalbo-0, Dela Paz-0
Quarterscores: 23-13, 38-31, 50-54, 73-72