La Salle gets back at UP with own dominating win to force a Game 3

On the bad end of the most lopsided Finals game in the Final Four era last Wednesday, De La Salle University displayed its heart and then some, giving University of the Philippines a dose of its own medicine in Game 2.

Despite newly crowned MVP Kevin Quiambao and senior guard Evan Nelle struggling, the Green Archers showcased their deep bench romping past the Fighting Maroons, 82-60, and force a do-or-die Game 3 in the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Finals, Sunday night in front of 20,863 green-and-maroon-clad fans inside the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

For the final time this year, La Salle and UP will clash in the winner-take-all rubber match on Wednesday, 6 p.m., still at the historic Big Dome.

“I guess we really don’t wanna end this Finals right away. We just gave UP a good fight. Players really wanted it and they just tried to be prepared for the way it’s gonna be. These guys played with their hearts out,” said La Salle head coach Topex Robinson.

Just like how the Fighting Maroons pulled away in Game 1 where they won 97-67, It was in the middle quarters where the Green Archers began to create separation.

Francis Escandor drilled three triples in the second frame while CJ Austria also contributed big time as the Green Archers outscored the Fighting Maroons, 20-11, for a 44-38 halftime lead.

It was notable that UP was held field goal-less in the first nine minutes and 46 seconds of the second quarter before CJ Cansino and Harold Alarcon made two baskets in the last 14 seconds. They, however, scored seven points from the line.

La Salle continued its hot shooting as Mark Nonoy and Joshua David joined the party in the third quarter, turning a slim 54-47 lead into a 65-49 advantage heading to the fourth.

“I felt they had more energy kanina and yung mga ganitong klaseng game would really teach us what kind of effort to put forth to be able to get yung championship,” said head coach Goldwin Monteverde as UP is now 0-4 all-time in Game 2s.

The Fighting Maroons looked to have continued their momentum from their 97-67 Game 1 win after starting Game 2 scorching, 12-2, but the Green Archers rallied.

“I’m just really, really happy that we got the win. Coming from a big loss, we really wanted to bounce back no matter what, our mindset was hindi kami magpapatalo this game. We really wanted to win and we showed it,” said Davao-native Escandor, who top-scored for La Salle with 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from deep.

David added 12 points on four three-pointers, while Austria had 11 points.

Quiambao went just 3-of-17 from the field but still ended up with nine points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks, while Nelle also had a woeful shooting night with a 2-of-12 clip but managed to finish with four points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and five steals.

“Game 1 ineffective ako. Nag step aside yung ego ko and naging off ball player ako.  Sobra akong na overwhelmed and excited dahil madami pang work and learnings sa game na ito. Overall, nag-compete kami talaga,” said Quiambao.

With Quiambao and Mike Phillips (nine points, 13 rebounds) forming a wall, La Salle flipped the rebounding battle after losing it in Game 1, 55-45, seizing 58 boards including 19 in the offensive end that turned into 16 second-chance points, while UP only got 46 rebounds.

“I felt they had more energy kanina and yung mga ganitong klaseng game would really teach us what kind of effort to put forth to be able to get yung championship,” lamented UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde.

The Green Archers also turned the story of three-point shots after their dismal 2-of-23 shooting from downtown in Game 1, going 12-of-38 from downtown. They also held the Fighting Maroons down to a horrid 2-of-19 clip from beyond the arc.

Graduating players CJ Cansino and Malick Diuof paced UP with 11 points apiece with the Season 85 MVP also grabbing 11 rebounds and swatting two shots. Diouf fouled out in the closing moments of the game.

Harold Alarcon also added 10 points in the losing cause.

The Scores:

DLSU 82 – Escandor 14, David 12, Austria 11, Quiambao 9, M. Phillips 9, Nonoy 8, Macalalag 7, Cortez 6, Nelle 4, B. Phillips 2, Manuel 0, Abadam 0, Policarpio 0.

UP 60 – Cansino 11, Diouf 11, Alarcon 10, Lopez 9, Cagulangan 6, Felicilda 6, Torculas 4, Abadiano 3, Belmonte 0, Torres 0, Alter 0, Pablo 0, Gonzales 0, Briones 0.

Quarterscores: 24-27, 44-38, 65-49, 82-60