Games between the Green Archers and the UST Growling Tigers have always been tightly-contested affairs, and this one was no different. But after clambering from an 11-point fourth quarter deficit and forcing an extra session, the Green Archers ultimately succumbed to the Tigers in overtime, 63-58, earlier today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Down 48-39 with about seven and a half minutes remaining in regulation after a couple of freebies by Tiger Clark Bautista, the Archer offense, which had been in a deep slumber for most of the contest, suddenly sprang to life as they stringed together seven points, the last on a booming triple by Almond Vosotros, to narrow the gap to four, 44-48.
Jeric Teng, who netted a game-high 23 points, answered with a jumper for the Tigers to pad their advantage to six, 50-44. Norbert Torres then managed to get a split at the line before Teng scored on a hoop-and-harm play, although the bonus free throw clanged off the rim, allowing UST to nurse a slim 50-47 lead with time down to 3:48.
LA Revilla, on his final tour of duty as an Archer, scooted through the lane for an easy lay-up at exactly the two minute mark, bringing the Archers to within a solitary point. And after a couple of empty possessions for both squads, La Salle was dealt a huge blow as Jeron Teng was called for his fifth and final foul on UST’s Paolo Pe with 52 seconds remaining, sending the former to the bench and the latter to the charity stripe with the chance to further the Tigers’ lead, although he would make only one of two.
With the reigning Rookie of the Year saddled on the bench after fouling out, it was rookie Jason Perkins who found himself open at the top of the key, and without a moment’s hesitation hoisted a jumper that found the bottom of the net to tie the game for the first time since the second quarter and force an overtime period.
Tiger Karim Abdul, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, would assert his might in the extra period, as he scored five quick points. Revilla would score once more on a lay-up, but Jeric Teng, who was guarded by his younger brother for most of the contest, nailed another jumper to preserve the five-point spread. Vosotros would nail his third triple with time down to a minute and thirty seconds, but Teng went two-for-two on a trip to the line for a four-point UST lead.
La Salle, however, was not yet done, as Perkins scored in the paint to bring them to within two, 58-60, forcing UST head coach Pido Jarencio to sue for time. Aljon Mariano, who Jarencio later admitted was not 100%, made both free throws with just 22 seconds left, before a backcourt by Revilla due to the stingy defense of Ed Daquioag was the final nail in the coffin for the Archers.
After a slow first quarter that saw both teams score a combined 22 points, the Tigers uncorked a 14-0 blitz in a span of three minutes near the end of the second canto, all of which were scored by Abdul and Teng. La Salle, however, was able to trim the lead to 28-20 on a buzzer beater by Norbert Torres at the end of the half.
Vosotros paced the balanced scoring of the Archers with 13 points and seven rebounds, while Perkins, in his first UAAP game, finished with 13 and nine. Teng also barged in double figures with 10 and eight caroms before fouling out late in the payoff period.
Anticipation hung in the air, almost tangible, as La Salle fans waited for the white-clad Archers to take the hardwood after unceremoniously bowing out of the Fil-Oil tournament after losing three of their final four games and undergoing a coaching change that placed Coach Juno Sauler at the helm three weeks before the start of the season.
La Salle, however, showed that it could hang with last year’s bridesmaids, as they held their own on the glass by outrebounding their opponents, 52-44, while forcing them to a miserable 39% shooting. The team, however, made only nine of their 19 free throws for a 47% shooting clip, and shot an even lower 31% from the field while committing 24 miscues.
UST-63- Teng-23, Abdul-17, Bautista-6, Mariano-5, Ferrer-5, Pe-3, Hainga-2, Daquioag-2, Lo-0
DLSU-58- Vosotros-13, Perkins-13, Teng-10, T. Torres-7, N. Torres-6, Reyes-4 Revilla-4, Van Opsal-1, Tampus-0, Bolick-0
Quarterscores: 10-12, 28-20, 40-34, 51-51 (End of Regulation), 63-58 (OT)