The vaunted defense was there but the offense was wanting. The leads delivered but the supporting cast was missing. Blue Eagles vital cogs Chris Tiu, Severino Baclao and Eric Salamat were stopped, but Rabah Al-Hussaini was simply unstoppable.
The Green Archers lost Game One of the Finals but all is not lost.
The defending champions failed to grab the go ahead victory in the series opener of the classic Ateneo-La Salle UAAP Championship at the jampacked Araneta Coliseum last Sunday with a 69-61 loss to the Blue Eagles.
While JV Casio finally got his groove against the Blue Eagles, scoring a team-high of 20 points, it was not enough to overpower the Rabah-Al Hussaini assault on the Green Archers. This season’s top contender for the Most Valuable Player award scored 31 big points, almost half of the Ateneo output.
The Green Archers controlled the rhythm of the ballgame in the first half, forcing the Blue Eagles, who were visibly shaken in the early part of the game, to commit 15 turnovers in the first half. The Archers even got their only taste of the lead late in the 2nd quarter, 29-26, after JV completed a three-point play off a steal from Ateneo’s Yuri Escueta. But after that spectacular play, the Blue Eagles countered with a 10-0 run, capped by a quarter ending triple from Jai Reyes, to give a comfortable 36-29 lead for the Eagles.
It was an Al-Hussaini show thereafter. The Ateneo big man scored 10 points in the 3rd quarter which ended with the Eagles on top by ten points. The Archers tried to recover but the shots weren’t going in. The defending champions tried to put up a final stand as they slashed the lead down to 6 with 46 seconds left in the game. But Chris Tiu simply dribbled the ball away.
Game 2 is set on Thursday, September 25, 4 pm at the Araneta Coliseum.
ADMU 69 – Al-Hussaini 31, Buenafe 12, Reyes 12, Baclao 5, Long 3, Tiu, 2, Baldos 2, Salamat 2, Austria 0, Escueta 0, Nikemakolam 0, Salva 0
DLSU 61 – Casio 20, Maierhofer 17, Barua 6, Malabes 6, Mangahas 5, Revilla 3, Ferdinand 2, Villanueva 2, Atkins 0, Bagatsing 0, Mendoza 0, Walsham 0
Quarter Scoring 15-12; 36-29; 55-45; 69-61