Rookie Maui Villanueva made, what would probably be the most memorable basket of his rookie year, as the Green Archers escape with a victory over the UST Growling Tigers, 81-79 at the UAAP Season 71 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.
Villanueva made a follow up shot with only a tenth of a second left in the game clock after Revilla missed a pressure-laden lay-up that sent the Green and White Gallery jumping and shouting for joy.
“Actually, yung talagang play namin, is for LA (Revilla) kasi 5 seconds left, siya yung pinakamabilis, it’s a good thing na beat nya yung defense ng UST,” said Acting Head Coach Jack Santiago, who admitted not having slept on the eve of this game due to the tremendous pressure to win this game in the absence of Head Coach Franz Pumaren.
Speedy was Revilla indeed. Given only 5.5 seconds to execute the play, and receiving the inbound pass from the backcourt, the diminutive point guard literally jet streamed through the defense of the UST Growling Tigers and made a decent jumper en route to the spectacular Villanueva follow through.
But it was Villanueva who took charge in the absence of Rico Maierhofer in the dying seconds of the ballgame. The Puerta Galera forward fouled out with still a minute still left in the game.
“Sobrang saya lang talaga ng feeling, ang hirap i-explain. Sobrang saya. Sobrang crucial sa amin ang game na ito, thanks to God, naka-deliver,” said a visibly shaken Villanueva to the reporters in the Araneta Press Room. Beside him was JV Casio, who repeatedly rubbed Villanueva’s hair, obviously ecstatic about the escape win. Casio topscored for the Green Archers with game high of 29 points, with 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
The win boosted the Green Archers’ chances of snatching the much coveted twice to beat advantage, as it ties for the 2nd spot the FEU Tamaraws, who earlier survived the NU Bulldogs.
The game was closely fought in the first half. The defending champions led the 2006 champions after the 1st quarter, 15-13, but the latter bounced back to end the 1st half on top, 36-34.
In the 3rd quarter, the Green Archers tried to break free from the Growling Tigers scoring 20 points against the Tigers 11, anchored on the hot outside shooting of Casio and Peejay Barua.
For a full two minutes in the final quarter, the game virtually became a JV-Jervy (Cruz) showdown. As Casio sinks one basket after another, his shots were quickly answered by last year’s MVP’s points in the paint. The shootout resulted into a 67-all deadlock in 4:36 mark. A five point swing by Casio pushed the Green Archers in front, 72-67 going into the final two minutes of the game. With the Green Archers looking to wrap up the game with a seven-point lead going into the final minute of the match, the Tigers, determined not to end their season outside the Final Four, rallied to tie the game at 79-all.
DLSU 81 – Casio 29, Barua 17, Maierhofer 16, Villanueva 6, Mangahas 6, Revilla 4, Webb 2, Ferdinand 1, Walsham 0, Malabes 0, Atkins 0
UST 79 – Cruz 28, Ababou 15, Mirza 11, Vargas 9, Bautista 5, Camus 3, Cuan 3, Canlas 3, Allera 2, Fenequito 0, Fortuna 0, Gile 0, Taylor 0
Quarter scores: 15-13; 34-36; 54-47; 81-79