Defending champions De La Salle Green Archers suffered its first loss in UAAP Season 71 at the claws of bitter rivals Ateneo Blue Eagles, 73-79 last Sunday before a jampacked crowd at the Araneta Coliseum.
Once again, Chris Tiu delivered the deadly blows to the DLSU Green Archers. The five-year veteran led all scorers with 26 markers including crucial free throws in the final stretch of the game which sealed Ateneo’s victory.
Going into the final 38 seconds of the game, rookie Green Archer Hyram Bagatsing fouled a shooting Chris Tiu from the three-point arc, to the mixed delight and howling of the Ateneo gallery. Tiu converted two of the three charity shots and gave Ateneo a 3 point cushion, 76-73, going into the dying seconds of the ballgame. With time running fast against De La Salle, team captain JV Casio desperately tried to free himself from the pesky defense of the Blue Eagles, and passed the ball to Peejay Barua, who missed a potentially-game tying three-point shot. Ateneo’s Yuri Escueta crushed the hopes of the green and white squad when he grabbed the rebound from the Barua miss, with 20 ticks left in the game.
Although the Blue Eagles had a six-point winning margin, the game was closely fought all throughout, with 15 deadlocks and 12 lead changes.
The Green Archers started slow in the opening quarter, allowing the Katipunan-based squad to surge to an early 6-0 lead. But Casio took charge and joined forces with rookies LA Revilla and Maui Villanueva to bring De La Salle to within one point, 16-17 at the end of the first canto.
In the second quarter, De La Salle found its rhythm as main man Rico Maierhoffer, veteran forward James Mangahas and neophytes David Joshua Webb and Bagatsing alternately pounded Ateneo with their offensive firepower to give the lead to the Green Archers at halftime, 40-35
The Green Archers’ offense continue to operate like a well-oiled machine in the third quarter. But Blue Eagle Eric Salamat proved to be a step quicker than the Green Archer defense, drilling in one basket after another, including a leadgrabbing drive underneath the basket to end the quarter.
The Taft-based squad bounced back in the early part of the fourth quarter and even tasted its highest lead of the ballgame at 67-61 at the 7-minute mark courtesy of a three-point conversion from Mangahas. The Green Archers looked poised to finish off the Blue Eagles, but the latter’s veterans, Jobe Nkemakolam, Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Salamat mounted a 10 to nothing run to erect a four-point lead for Ateneo at 71-67 with 5 minutes remaining in the game.
Coming from a timeout, the Green Archers responded and quickly made two back to back baskets courtesy of Maierhofer and Casio, to even up the scores anew at 71 all. This however, was to be the last deadlock of the ballgame.
Contributing largely to the loss of the Green Archers was their dismal performance from the free throw line. The Green Archers converted only 13 of of the 29 charity baskets awarded to them for a measly 44.8% clip, compared to the Blue Eagles’ 81% (34 out of 42).
Controlling the boards continue to be a problem for DLSU as they got outrebounded by Ateneo, 46 to 41.
The game was marred by uncanny technical fouls called on both sides. Even before the opening tip-off, Coach Franz Pumaren was called for a technical foul for failure to wear his UAAP ID. On the other hand, Ateneo’s Coach Norman Black was also charged with a technical foul, before the start of the final quarter, for “disobeying the commissioner’s orders”
ADMU 79 – Tiu 26, Salamat 10, Al Hussaini 10, Buenafe 8, Nkemakolam 7, Baclao 7, Burke 4, Austria 3, Long 2, Salva 1, Escueta 1, Baldos 0, Reyes 0
DLSU 73 – Casio 19, Maierhofer 16, Mangahas 13, Webb 7, Villanueva 4, Bagatsing 4, Revilla 3, Walsham 2, Atkins 2, Barua 2, Ferdinand 1, Malabes 0
17-16; 35-40; 56-54, 79-73