When the Green Archers began the second round against the Adamson Falcons, their goal was to win their fifth game. Unfortunately, four games later, their goal is still to notch that elusive fifth win.
After the first twenty minutes of their second round encounter with bitter rival Ateneo Blue Eagles, the Archers found themselves down by only five points. The team was bannered by Oda Tampus, who already had nine points across his name.
During the turn, the Animo Squad gave a rousing halftime performance that somehow uplifted the outnumbered gallery of Green-clad supporters. And, best of all, Greg Slaughter, the Eagles’ seven-foot center, had only spent a total of four minutes on the floor after picking his second foul early in the second canto.
However, the next twenty minutes of the match would be a different story, as what was initially a nail-biter was turned into a rout, one turnover and botched three-pointer at a time.
Unlike their first meeting wherein they were able to whittle the lead of the Loyola-based dribblers down to a handful of points, the Archers were unable to mount any kind of comeback to surmount the lead of their rivals.
By the end of the match, the score was 62-79 in favor of the Eagles, which sent the Archers reeling from their fourth straight setback and further dimmed their flickering Final Four hopes.
Blue Eagle Nico Salva was one of four players in doule figures as he poured in 13 of his game-high 19 points in the second half as they turned a slim 31-26 lead into a sizeable 40-29 margin midway through the third, forcing La Salle mentor Dindo Pumaren to call for a ceasefire.
Two quick baskets by point guard Almond Vosotros of the Green-and-White side brought down the lead of the Eagles to seven, 46-53, at the start of the payoff period, but the Hail Mary Squad answered with a 7-0 run of their own that upped their lead to 14 big points.
Despite a valiant effort by big man Arnold Van Opstal, who was the sole bowman in double figures as he banged in 13 points, grabbed two boards and blocked two shots, the lead of Ateneo reached its highest at 21, after a three-point play by Salva with a little over one and a half minute remaining in the match.
Tampus, after scoring nine in the first half, was scoreless in the second. Vosotros was able to muster nine points, three dimes and three boards, while Norbert Torres finished with eight markers and three boards.
The Archers compounded their woes by opting for ill-advised three-pointers, as they shot 1-for-13 from distance in the second half, while only attempting four trifectas during the entire first half. They were also held to a measly 25% shooting in the perimeter as they missed 20 of their 27 attempts from beyond the paint.
Both teams were rewarded with 22 free throws, but the difference was that the Eagles only missed four freebies, while La Salle muffed twelve for a 45% clip from the line.
With the team’s loss and with the win of the fourth-running UST Growling Tigers earlier in the day against UE, the Green Archers have fallen two games behind in the race for the fourth and final slot in the semis, as they now tote a 4-7 win-loss record compared to UST’s 6-5.
They have entered the dreaded stage wherein they would have to hope that their opponents lose their games, and, naturally, winning their remaining three games against UP, NU and FEU will be a must.
Next Sunday, September 4, will be their date against the Fighting Maroons, where the team hopes to arrest their four-game skid and nail their first win of the second round.
The door to the semis is still ajar for the squad, but they will have to start winning now, and a victory against the Maroons next Sunday will be the first step in their arduous ascent to the final four.
ADMU 79 – Salva 19, Ravena 13, Monfort 13, Gonzaga 12, Slaughter 8, Chua 7, Long 6, Tiongson 1, Erram 0, Sumalinog 0, Golla 0, Austria 0
DLSU 62 – Van Opstal 13, Vosotros 9, Tampus 9, Torres 8, Revilla 6, Villanueva 6, Atkins 4, de la Paz 3, Paredes 2, Webb 2, Gotladera 0, Mendoza 0, Marata 0
Quarter scoring: 14-11, 31-26, 53-42, 79-62