It was a war of attrition, but when the smoke of the (prolonged and protracted) battle cleared, it was the Tigers who survived.
LA Revilla had been the focal point of the Green Archers’ final play in regulation, and he found himself isolated and guarded by Tiger Jeric Fortuna. He dribbled as the dying seconds ticked away, crossed his man over at the top of the key, dribbled to his right, and launched an off-balance floater against Fortuna’s outstretched arms that went sailing towards the net. Game over.
It was a storybook ending as Revilla gestured to the La Salle faithful as everyone was getting ready for the game’s wrap-up. It was indeed a perfect end, but it wasn’t the end that was envisioned by the basketball gods.
Instead, what they had in mind was a cardiac finish more heart-pounding than a horror movie, one that featured two overtimes, a game-saving block by Tiger Karim Abdul on , and comebacking Tiger Aljon Mariano stealing the spotlight in the game’s waning moments. It was also an ending as painful as heartbreak for the Archers, who were towed by gutsy performances from LA Revilla, Jeron Teng, Yutien Andrada, and Joshua Webb.
After it had been deemed that Revilla’s last-gasp basket at the end of regulation did not count, both teams battled into a couple of overtimes, with the Growling Tigers finally emerging on top after a baseline jumper by Mariano at the left wing found the bottom of the net with seven seconds remaining in the second overtime, giving his Tigers a slim 84-82 lead, a lead that would prove to be the game’s final count.
The win propelled the Tigers to the top oft the standings with a 4-1 win-loss card, while the Archers, after a fiery 2-0 start, have now dropped their last three games and now tote a 2-3 record.
Mariano, the lanky forward who also engineered UST’s comeback against Ateneo, poured in 14 of his 15 points in both of the game’s extra sessions, including all of the Tigers’ four points in the second overtime, none timelier than the wide open jumper that gave them the lead for good after trailing for most of stanza.
Mariano’s backbreaking baskets came after four empty possessions by the Green Archers (two of them resulting in traveling violations and one in a stepping on the baseline infraction) failed to put the game away. La Salle likewise missed four free throws in the extra period alone, and missed 14 for the entire game. In the end it was a jumper by Revilla with 3:53 remaining in the second overtime was the Archers’lone make in the second extra session.
But while it was La Salle, who controlled most of the second overtime, it was the exact opposite during the game’s first extra session, as Mariano unloaded five straight points and, along with a couple of freebies by Kevin Ferrer, gave his team a 78-74 advantage with 2:39 left. Baskets from Teng and Andrada then allowed La Salle to knot things up at 78, but another drive and lay-up by Mariao once more handed the Tigers the upper-hand, 80-78 with 46 ticks left.
But a perfectly timed pass by Revilla which led to an easy basket by Torres would allow the Archers to once more tie the game and forge a second overtime.
There were several times during the game when the Tigers threatened to turn the match into a rout, but the Archers would always stage a comeback to tie things up. This was evident in the third quarter, when Tiger Clark Bautista unloaded 11 of his game-high 21 points and allowed his team to enter the final frame with a sizeable 56-48 lead.
Webb, Andrada, and Teng would then lead a furious La Salle fightback, and after a putback by Andrada off a miss by Teng with 2:41 left in regulation, the count was all knotted up at 66, setting the stage for an endgame that would not be decided until two overtimes later.
Revilla finished with a team-high 19 points along with three rebounds and two dimes, while the younger Teng, who outperformed his elder brother Jeric in their first meeting this season, finished with a double-double of 17 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and a steal. Andrada, who made a living off his teammates’misses and dribble-drive penetrations, wound up with 16 points, nine rebounds, three takeaways, and three rejections.
Next Game: The Green Archers’ next game will be a 2pm date on August 8 at the Araneta Coliseum with the Adamson Falcons, a team which is right behind them in the standings. The Falcons have not lost to the Archers since July 2009, and although they have only chalked up a single win and are still reeling from the loss of several veterans to graduation, this is a team that should not be taken lightly.
Notes: During the halftime break, La Salle’s Animo Squad performed a lengthy number alongside UST’s Salinggawi Dance Troupe, which ended with an amiable exchange of hugs and handshakes. The game was the UAAP’s first overtime game this season.
UST-84– Bautista-21, Abdul-16, Mariano-15, Teng-9, Fortuna-8, Afuang-8, Ferrer-5, Pe-2, Lo-0, Daquioag-0
La Salle-82–Revilla-19, Teng-17, Andrada-16, Webb-13, Torres, N.-7, Manguera-6, Van Opstal-2, Tallo-2, Torres, T.-0, Dela Paz-0
Quarterscores: 15-17, 29-30, 56-48, 71-71, 80-80, 84-82