Jeron Teng dribbled at the top of the key, Perpetual Help’s Gab Danganon in front of him. The clock read six, five, four seconds. He drove past Danganon, as if going straight to the basket. Only four days, ago, he had driven past a couple of UST defenders for a lay-up with the time expiring to send La Salle to the quarterfinals. But this time, as he drew another defender, he spun to his left and found an open Jason Perkins under the basket. Perkins nearly lost the leather before laying it in to give the Archers a two-point lead with 0.6 seconds left.
And after a bungled inbound pass by the Altas, it was only then that the Archers could breathe a sigh of relief, their place in the semifinals secure.
Despite controlling most of the game and leading by as much as 14 points in the third period, the Green Archers were outscored by the Altas in the fourth quarter, before recovering at the endgame to eke out an 81-79 victory in the quarterfinals of the Fil-Oil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup earlier today at the San Juan Arena. The win gives the Archers a semifinals slot, joining the San Beda Red Lions, JRU Heavy Bombers, and the FEU Tamaraws as the last four teams standing in the tournament.
Teng topscored for the Archers with 19 points, six assists, and five rebounds, while fellow fourth year player Thomas Torres added 18 points, four caroms, and an assist. Abu Tratter banged in 14 markers, hauled down eight boards, and had two assists, while rookie Andrei Caracut had 12 points on three triples, four rebounds, and two assists. Perkins, the hero of the game, had a double-double of 11 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists.
A jumper by Teng allowed the Archers to take a 62-48 lead, 4:18 left in the third, but the Altas, led by their Nigerian import Bright Akhuetie, chipped away at their lead before the start of the payoff period. Akhuetie scored six points in the last four minutes of the third, and, with help from trifectas from G-Jay Ylagan and Chris Elopre, the Altas closed to within seven, 67-60, at the end of the third.
After a jumper by Torres pushed La Salle to a 73-63 lead with 6:10 left in the match, the Archers would not have a field goal in the next few minutes, before a basket by Perkins with 2:35 left ended the drought for La Salle. By that time, the Altas had closed to within 76-78, thanks to the efforts of Danganon and Prince Eze who scored six and nine points, respectively, in the rally.
Perpetual had actually tied the count at 76-all, before two charities by Perkins allowed La Salle to carry a two point edge heading into the game’s final minute.
After several Altas misses from long distance, the Archers finally secured the leather. With 14 ticks left, Teng was fouled, but made only one of two free throws, pushing La Salle’s lead to 79-76, but leaving the door for the Altas to forge an extra session. After a timeout by Altas coach Aric Del Rosario, Danganon dribbled on the other end and confidently rifled in a three that tied the game at 79, with six seconds left, the game appearing to be headed for overtime and setting the stage for Perkins’ game-winner.
It was actually the Altas who had a better start to the game, leading by as much as six early on in the game, before baskets by Teng, Tratter, Torres, and Perkins allowed the Archers to recover and take a 21-16 lead at the end of the first quarter. That lead would remain the same throughout the second canto, before a late run by La Salle capped by a fastbreak lay-up by Teng gave La Salle a 44-33 lead at the break.
Akhuetie, who led the tournament in scoring during the elimination round, finished with 25 points and 11 boards to lead all scorers, while Danganon added 23 and nine. Ylagan was the only other Altas who finished in double figures, as he ended up with ten. This ends the preseason for an Altas team that finished with an impressive 7-1 win loss record during the eliminations and played without reigning NCAA MVP Scottie Thompson, who is playing with the Gilas Cadets in the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
The Archers were also without Arnold Van Opstal, Larry Muyang, Renzo Navarro. Prince Rivero also did not suit up for La Salle, as he is a teammate of Thompson and is also in Singapore for the SEA Games.
The Archers outrebounded the Altas, 50-40, had more assists, 20-14, and had more turnover points 14-3 despite having the same number of turnovers as Perpetual (14). La Salle, however, failed to register a single steal or block, and were beaten in the second chance points department, 12-2.
The Next Game: The Archers will face the FEU Tamaraws this Friday, June 12, 3pm, also at the Arena in San Juan. This is a rematch of last year’s Final Four, though Mac Belo and Heach Coach Nash Racela will not be around, as they are also part of the Gilas team competing in the SEA Games.
La Salle- 81 – Teng-19, Torres-18, Tratter-14, Caracut-12, Perkins- 11, Torralba-5, Gob-2, Go-0, Sargent-0
Perpetual- 79- Akhuetie-25, Danganon-23, Ylagan-10, Eze-8, Sadiwa-4, Dizon-1, Oliveria-0, Gallardo-0, Coronel-0, Pido-0, Bantayan-0, Cabiltes-0
Quarterscores: 21-16, 44-33, 67-60, 81-79