With about five minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Green Archers facing a 17-point mountain against the Adamson Falcons, a man sitting a few rows behind me said to his seatmate, “Pare, una na ko. Tambak na naman eh,” before promptly leaving the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Boy, that guy must be in deep regret right now, because he sure missed a lot.
Despite scoring a paltry two points in the second period and being down by as much as 22, the Green Archers mounted a spirited comeback anchored by sophomore Almond Vosotros, who rifled in 12 of his team-high 18 points in the final canto.
Ultimately, however, clutch baskets by Alex Nuyles and Eric Camson allowed the San Marcelino-based squad to escape with a 68-66 triumph. The loss placed La Salle into a tie for third and fourth with the idle FEU Tamaraws, as they both sport 4-4 win-loss records.
A booming triple by the Albay native Vosotros brought the Archers within a solitary point, 63-64, with 1:12 left in the game. Fellow sophomore Oda Tampus then forced a jumpball and won the ensuing possession, but the Green-and-White squad failed to capitalize, giving the ball back to the Falcons after another jumpball, this time between Camson and Archer Norbert Torres.
The Falcons then handed the ball to Camson at the right elbow, and he nailed the last of his game-high 20 points with time down to 18 seconds.
Life, however, still throbbed in the veins of the Archers, as Vosotros found a wide-open Luigi Dela Paz who rattled in a triple from the left wing, knotting the count at 66 for the first time since 2-2 at the start of the game.
Then came the final play which was drawn for Nuyles, who spun and broke from the tight guard of Tampus and hoisted a soft jumper which sailed through the net with eight-tenths of a second remaining. An alley-oop was drawn up by mentor Dindo Pumaren, but Dela Paz was unable to catch the inbound pass from Vosotros, allowing the Falcons to escape with their sixth victory.
The Taft-based Archers actually started the game on a frenetic pace, getting easy buckets from their big men while pestering the fearsome frontline of the Falcons, who only settled for turnaround and midrange jumpers which did not find their mark. With the quarter ending and the team clutching an 18-11 advantage, it seemed as if they were the ones in control of the game.
The second quarter, however, eerily mirrored the third quarter of their match against the NU Bulldogs, as they shot 1-for-14 in the quarter and only managed to score two points which came at the 1:01 mark of the quarter on a jumper by Dela Paz. By then the Falcons had already turned the game around thanks to a searing 24-2 run anchored by four triples, three of which came from Lester Alvarez.
Facing a 17-point bubble at the start of the third, the Archers continued to reel from the ounslaught of the Falcons, who were bannered this time by Camson. It was here that their lead was stretched to its highest, 52-30, with 2:47 remaining in the quarter after an and-one by Camson.
Then came the final period, when the Archers, led by Vosotros , Dela Paz, Tampus and Torres, almost pulled off a stunning victory courtesy of a 27-12 quarter scoring. There was even a stretch when the diminuitive Vosotros, who also had seven rebounds and two assists, scored seven unanswered points, forcing Adamson coach Leo Austria to call for a ceasefire.
“They played with the heart of a champion,” Austria would later say about the Archers. “We were lucky that we had a big lead because it made the difference, especially nung second quarter.”
Dela Paz, who was one of three Archers who were doubtful for today’s game after suffering an injury during the previous game against the Tigers, showed no signs of rust and finished with 11 points, while Torres likewise contributed to the Archers’ cause, scattering 10 points, hauling down five boards, and blocking two shots.
Joshua Webb, who was also sidelined for a couple of games after being hospitalized for a viral infection, was in uniform but did not see action. Team captain Simon Atkins, who suffered a bad fall after colliding with UST’s Karim Abdul during their last game, was not on the La Salle bench.
The Archers will try to erase the stigma of their fourth defeat when they lock horns with the cellar-dweller UE Red Warriors this Saturday, August 20.
Adamson 68 – Camson 20, Nuyles 14, Alvarez 14, Brondial 6, Lozada 6, Cabrera 5, Colina 2, Manyara 1, Etrone 0, Cañada 0
De La Salle 66 – Vosotros 18, de la Paz 11, Torres 10, Van Opstal 6, Tampus 6, Villanueva 6, Marata 3, Revilla 2, Paredes 2, Andrada 2, Sara 0, Mendoza 0
Quarterscores: 11-18, 35-20, 56-39, 68-66