Third Quarter Collapse Dooms La Salle for third loss

University of the Philippines survived De La Salle University’s fiery fightback in the fourth, 67-64, to move a win away from sweeping the first round of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament on Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

And it came down to composure and wits for last season’s runners-up.

Seeing their once 63-52 lead dissipate to 65-64 with 15.5 seconds left, the Fighting Maroons quintet outwitted the Green Archers, playing hot potato for 12 seconds before the latter was able to burn their last foul to give.

La Salle then sent Reyland Torres to the foul stripe in the next possession, calmly sinking both for the 67-64 UP advantage.

Off a timeout, Joaqui Manuel’s inbound was stolen by CJ Cansino to seal their sixth win in as many outings for the Fighting Maroons to remain on top of the UAAP table.

“For the team, every game whether manalo kami nang malaki or close, we always take that as a learning experience especially yung team namin is a mix of seniors and young guys,” said UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde.

It was a game of runs that saw the Green Archers cough a once 47-38 halftime lead to a 50-59 deficit after a nightmare third canto. La Salle struggled to find the bucket during that stretch going just 1-of-21 from the field.

UP took a 63-52 lead with 5:55 left in the game on a Diouf layup then the climb back to the top began for La Salle.

Joshua David made a three-pointer from the left corner at the 5:41 mark for the Green Archers’ first field goal since the first 11 seconds of the third stanza.

Mike Phillips, CJ Austria, Mark Nonoy, and Quiambao scored eight more points to equalize the game at 63 with 2:13 left.

Abadiano, though, pulled UP back ahead with a midrange jumper from the left side with 1:01 remaining, 65-63.

Phillips, in the ensuing play, was put on the line again after missing possible game-winning free throws last time out against National University. This time, he split his freebies with 44.3 seconds left, 64-65.

That led to the frenetic finish.

“Sa akin we started medyo flat on both ends nung first half. Ang difference para sa akin nung first and second half would be yung defense namin was much better,” said Monteverde.

Abadiano returned from a two-game rest due to concussion protocols with a team-high 13 points and four rebounds, while reigning Most Valuable Player Diouf had 10 points and 18 rebounds.

Alarcon also tallied 10 points while grabbing eight rebounds.  

UP will go for 7-0 on Sunday against Ateneo de Manila University in a rematch of the last two finals at the same Pasay arena.

La Salle point guard Evan Nelle did not play due to a quad contusion.

Phillips paced La Salle with 15 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks but committed six turnovers. Quiambao also contributed 14 points and seven rebounds.

The Green Archers slipped to their second straight loss to fall to 3-3, tied with Ateneo and Adamson University for third to fifth spots.

The Scores:

UP 67 – Abadiano 13, Alarcon 10, Diouf 10, Lopez 7, Cansino 7, Torres 7, Belmonte 7, Cagulangan 6, Felicilda 0, Alter 0, Torculas 0, Pablo 0, Gonzales 0.

DLSU 64 – M. Phillips 15, Quiambao 14, David 7, Manuel 7, Nwankwo 6, Nonoy 5, Austria 5, Abadam 2, Macalalag 2, Policarpio 1, B. Phillips 0, Escandor 0, Gollena 0.

Quarterscores: 21-28, 38-47, 59-50, 67-64