This time, Jeron Teng didn’t need to drive past two defenders for a lay-up with the time winding down and the game on the line. Jason Perkins didn’t need to use his left hand to score under the basket against a towering import to give his team the win. In La Salle’s past couple of games, they raced to huge leads early on, only to see their opponents climb back and tie the game. It was game-winners by Teng, and Perkins that allowed them to enter the quarterfinals and the semifinals, respectively.
There wasn’t any need for that today.
After a scorching start, the Green Archers withstood several rallies by the FEU Tamaraws, but maintained a double-digit lead for most of the game for a wire-to-wire 84-71 victory in the semifinals of the Fil-Oil Flying V Premier Cup earlier today at the San Juan Arena.
The win gives La Salle the first finals seat in the preseason tournament, as they await the winner of the San Beda-JRU game later on which will determine their finals opponent. It is La Salle’s third time in four years to enter the Fil-Oil Finals, as they lost to the NU Bulldogs in 2012 and defeated San Beda last year for the title.
Jeron Teng led the Archers with 19 points and five boards, while Thomas Torres added 18 points on a sizzling 7-for-9 shooting from the field, while almost turning in a triple-double by adding 10 rebounds and seven assists. Abu Tratter and Jason Perkins also finished in double figures for La Salle, as they scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, and had five boards each.
After a deadlock at 4-all, La Salle outscored the Tamaraws 22-8 to end the first quarter, with Teng pumping in eight of his 19 during this stretch. His jumper to end the first period gave La Salle a 26-12 lead after ten minutes of play.
La Salle extended this lead to 33-12 early in the second, after a jumper by Torres, as the Tamaraws shot a putrid 0-for-9 from long distance to start the game. FEU, however, soon made some of their baskets, led by senior player Roger Pogoy, as they closed to within 42-29 at halftime. Pogoy had a game-high 14 points at the half, but the rest of his team couldn’t make their shots, as FEU only made 29% of their field goals as compared to La Salle, who made half of their attempts at the turn.
The Archers emerged from the break to extend the lead to 51-37, after a basket by Perkins from a pass by Torres. The Tamaraws, however, clawed to within 11, 40-51, with three minutes left in the quarter. Baskets and charities by Teng, Perkins, and rookie Larry Muyang, however, allowed La Salle to preserve a 13-point edge heading into the payoff period.
Mike Tolomia and the rest of the Tamaraws, however, rallied to start the fourth, and a hoop-and-harm basket by Tolomia allowed FEU to come to within eight, 54-62. Muyang canned two charities to extend the lead to ten, by the Tamaraws answered with a triple to chop the lead to seven, 57-64, the closest they have come since the first period.
Torres, however, responded with a triple of his own, and keyed in a blistering 13-0 surge that allowed La Salle to restore some order and push their lead back to 18, 77-59, after a basket by Teng with 2:36 left in the contest. Any hope of a comeback was doused by another triple by freshman Andrei Caracut, which handed the Archers an 80-65 lead with less than two minutes remaining.
Pogoy led all scorers with 22 points and added ten caroms, while Raymar Jose had a double-double of 12 points and 14 boards. Tolomia finished with 11 points, eight assists, and six rebounds for the Tamaraws, who advanced to the semis by eliminating the CEU Scorpions, which was one of only two teams to defeat the Archers in the eliminations, the other being San Beda.
Overall, the Archers shot 53% from the field, while holding down the Tamaraws to 32%. La Salle also asserted its might in the shaded area, outscoring FEU 46-22 on inside points. The team, however, was clobbered on the boards, 48-43, including a sizeable 19-6 advantage on the offensive boards for the Tamaraws.
The Finals: The Archers will face the winner of the other semifinals match between the JRU Heavy Bombers and the San Beda Red Lions. The finals will be on Sunday, June 14, 4pm, also at the San Juan Arena.
Note: The Tamaraws played without Mac Belo and head coach Nash Racela, who are both in Singapore for the SEA Games, where the Gilas cadets are competing. La Salle’s Prince Rivero is also a part of this team, while Arnold Van Opstal and Lorenzo Navarro did not suit up for the Archers.
La Salle- 84- Teng-19, Torres-18, Tratter-12, Perkins-11, Caracut-9, Muyang-7, Torralba-4, Go-2, Sargent-2, Gob-0
FEU- 71- Pogoy-22, Jose-12, Tolomia-11, Escoto-5, Bienes-5, Trinidad-4, Orizu-3, Tamsi-3, Arong-2, Liwag-2, Comboy-2, Inigo-0, Dennison-0
Quarterscores: 26-14, 42-29, 62-49, 84-71