Cold-shooting Archers fall to Maroons for their first loss

The last time the Green Archers lost to the Fighting Maroons, UAAP Men’s Basketball games were still held at the Fil-Oil Arena in San Juan, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was still the country’s president, and Mikee Reyes, Woody Co, and Alvin Padilla were the ones who led UP to the stunning victory that dented La Salle’s Final Four hopes back in 2009.

But this is a different team from the cellar-dwelling UP squads of the last few years, one which has aspirations of winning more than just a couple of games and already started the season with an auspicious win against the UE Red Warriors.

The Fighting Maroons raced to a double-digit lead in the second quarter, but the Green Archers rallied in the game’s dying minutes. Slowly, they chipped away at the lead, which once stood at 17. But with their outside shots repeatedly missing their mark, and with a Maroon always finding the bottom of the net at the right time, the six-year dominance of La Salle against UP finally ended, with the Fighting Maroons winning, 71-66, earlier today at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The win gives UP, this year’s UAAP hosts, an early lead in the standings, as they now have a 2-0 win-loss record. La Salle, meanwhile, falls to 1-1 after a rousing debut against the defending champion NU Bulldogs last Sunday.

With La Salle down by just four, 61-65, with 45 seconds remaining in the game, the Archers elected to send UP’s Andrew Harris to the foul line. Harris missed both of his free throws, but La Salle, which dominated the boards for the entire contest, could not secure the rebound. Jeron Teng incurred his fifth foul as Harris was sent back to the line, and this time, he made both charities to give the Maroons a six-point lead, 67-61, forcing La Salle head coach Juno Sauler to call for time.

Right out of the timeout, however, the Archers turned the ball over, sending Henry Asilum to the line. Asilum made both charities to give the Fighting Maroons a 69-61 lead with 39 ticks left, which all but sealed the outcome of the game.  

After Jett Manuel’s jumper gave the Maroons a 64-51 lead with only 3:42 left, the Archers unleashed an 10-1 run after baskets by Andrei Caracut, Thomas Torres, Prince Rivero, and Teng. Harris,Asilum, and Agustini Amar, however, made the free throws that staved off the DLSU comeback.

UP attained its largest lead during the third quarter, when back-to-back triples by Gelo Vito and Paul Desiderio gave them a commanding 54-37 lead with 2:07 left in the period. After a tightly-contested first quarter, Manuel, Diego Dario, Piero Longa, and Dave Moralde all scored for the Fighting Maroons to give them a sizeable 41-28 advantage at the half.

Manuel led the Fighting Maroons with 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists, while Desiderio added 13 points, four boards, and three dimes.

Rivero scored a game-high 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Archers, while Caracut finished with 12 points, five boards, and three assists. Teng added 10 points five boards, and two assists for La Salle, who shot a measly 36% from the field overall, including a woeful 3-for-24 (13%) on three-pointers. The Maroons, meanwhile, made a living from the perimeter, scoring 43 points in the area compared to La Salle’s 17 while making seven of 22 triples. The Archers clobbered the Fighting Maroons in the battle of the boards, (50-37 in total rebounds, 22-13 on the offensive glass), but committed 20 turnovers to UP’s 16 and were outscored by their reserves 44-31.

The Next Game: The Green Archers will try to bounce back from their first loss when they square-off against the pre-season favorites, the FEU Tamaraws, in a rematch of last year’s Final Four series. The game will be on Sunday, 4pm, at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Scores:

UP -71–Manuel-14, Desiderio-13, Longa-10, Dario-9, Asilum-7, Moralde-5, Harris-4, Vito-3, Gallarza-2, Amar-2, Prado-2, Juruena-0, Kone-0

DLSU -66– Rvero-15, Caracut-10, Teng-10, Torres-8, Sargent-8, Perkins-5, Go-5, Muyang-3, Tratter-0, Navarro-0,

Quarterscores: 16-14, 41-28, 54-42, 71-66