The Green Archers had to take the longer route, and that longer route certainly took them to their intended destination.
After failing to get the outright twice to beat advantage last Sunday, the Green Archers bounced back and finally nailed the favored no. 2 slot as they pounced on the FEU Tamaraws, 62-59, in the lone playoff game of Season 71 of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.
But the route they took not only prove to be longer, it also was bumpier.
Just when De La Salle was poised to take the win with a 60-53 lead over FEU going into the final two minutes, the Tamaraws made four quick points-–a miss on his second free throw by last season’s Rookie of the Year awardee, JR Cawaling, paved the way for a put back for Aldrech Ramos with a foul to boot. Ramos, the league’s no. 1 blocker completed the and-one play and narrowed down the spread to 3, 60-57, 1:43 left in the game clock.
But JV Casio, again proved to be the Tamaraws’ headache cause, as he averted the attempted overtake by the FEU Tamaraws when he pirouetted his way to the basket. This gave De La Salle more breathing space with a five-point lead, 62-57, 1:06 before end of regulation. Cawaling refused to raise the white flag as he drove to the basket in the final 30 seconds and kept the margin a mere three-point shot away from deadlock. Fortunately for the Archers, that was to be Cawaling’s last conversion for the night. As the final seconds began to tick away, the Green Archers groped for a decent offensive form and was stripped by the ball by the Tamaraws. Cawaling attempted an equalizing triple but the ball just bounced off the rim.
Both teams had a slow start, ending the first half at 25-23, with the FEU Tamaraws enjoying the upper hand.
In the third quarter, the 6-7-8 combination delivered the goods for the Green Archers. Point guard Simon Atkins started the surge of the Green Archers with a split from the charity line, after being fouled on a strong drive to the basket. Then, fellow sophomore Bader Malabes scored 5 successive points ignited by a three-point bomb in the 9 minute mark. The defending champions showed why they are who they are as they step on the gas, quickening the pace of the game, and virtually making a mockery of the defense of their opponents with Casio, Atkins and Malabes alternating baskets. In a span of a little over three minutes, the Green Archers overcame a two-point lead at the end of the first half and erected a nine-point spread, 37-28, 6:24 in the third. The third canto ended with the Archers on the driver’s seast, 47-39.
Casio recovered from an lackluster performance in their last game and led the charge for the Green Archers with 16 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
“That’s a very good sign of a great player–bouncing back from a horrible shooting. At the end of the day, we completely trust JV,” said Coach Franz Pumaren of his main point guard. This win marks the first of Coach Franz after his return from Teheran, Iran. “Before the start of the game, everybody talked. They wanted this victory for me, I should thank them,” added Coach Franz.
But the jubilation brought about by the victory was cut short. Midway into the post-game interview of Coach Franz, DLSU Assistant Coach Tonichi Yturri entered the press center and relayed to Coach Franz the sad news of the passing away of the father of DLSU Assistant Coach Jack Santiago. Coach Franz returned earlier than planned after the father of Coach Santiago became critically ill.
“I went home because of that. I wanted Jack to spend more time with his father. It’s just right to give him more time with his dad, at least in the remaining days (of his dad). Then, I get those raps, I don’t think I deserve that,” said Coach Franz who was trying to control his emotions.
This is a victory we’ll very well remember. We’re happy we won, it is just unfortunate that the dad of Jack passed away. Maybe that is why Cawaling missed that jump shot, the dad of Jack interfered,” said Coach Franz, referring to the last shot made by Cawaling.
Both teams will meet anew on Sunday, with the defending champions needing only a win to secure a historic 13th finals appearance in 15 UAAP seasons.
DLSU 62 – Casio 16, Maierhofer 14, Barua 10, Malabes 9, Atkins 6, Villanueva 3, Mangahas 3, Revilla 1, Walsham 0, Bagatsing 0, Ferdinand 0
FEU 59 – Cervantes 14, Fernandez 13, Baracael 10, Sanga 5, Barroca 5, Cawaling 4, Tanuan 3, Ramos 3, Knuttel 2, Alisbo 0, Cabagnot 0
Quarter Scores: 8-10; 23-25; 47-39, 62-59