It was a close game all through out, but the game’s down-the-wire spirit dwindled as the game approached the final buzzer.
The defending champions De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers displayed their championship form after thrashing the National University (NU) Bulldogs, 68-56, in their second round match-up in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 77 this evening at the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City.
The Archers were up with a slim lead, 49-43, coming into the final frame, but their lead suddenly ballooned to 11 when Fil-Canadian forward Norbert Torres caught fire and scored six straight points, capped with a 16-footer on the right wing, to make it 55-44 with 7:43 in the game. A jumper by NU guard Gelo Alolino and a split off free throws by forward Troy Rosario trimmed their lead to eight, 55-47, with 6:25 left.
NU tried to get an offensive spark from Alolino and Rosario’s baskets, but De La Salle just could not be stopped as they quickly gunned for a 9-0 run behind Arnold Van Opstal, Almond Vosotros, and Jason Perkins to stretch their lead to seventeen, 64-47, with 3:39 on the clock. Another split by Rosario with less than three minutes left halted DLSU’s run and made it 64-48.
The Bulldogs created an 8-4 run within the last two minutes of the game, but the game was already out of reach, and it ended 68-56 in favor of the Taft-based squad.
The third quarter opened in a 31-all deadlock between the two teams, and the Bulldogs quickly broke the tie, 33-31, after Rosario sank a hook shot with 9:24 remaining. An exchange of baskets between the Bulldogs and the Green Archers took place, and the latter found themselves up by one, 38-37, prior to an NU timeout. The timeout was actually called by NU to help them take a breather and recharge, but De La Salle seemed to be the one replenished as they quickly struck with an 8-0 run behind Perkins and Julian Sargent to post a nine-point cushion with 3:06 left. The Bulldogs, however, were able to buy buckets prior to the quarter’s end and lagged behind by six, 49-43, as the third canto buzzer sounded.
The second quarter opened with the Green Archers ahead by three, 20-17, until Torres’ stab near the basket widened their lead to five, 22-17, with 9:24 left. The Bulldogs erased De La Salle’s five-point advantage as they unfurled an 11-0 run, capped by a floater from Alolino, to take NU in the driver’s seat, 28-22, with 3:35 on the clock.
The Green Archers also made a run of their own, pulling off a 9-1 run to regain the lead, 31-29, with 1:08 remaining. Rosario, again, halted DLSU’s run and sent the game into a 31-all affair after making a jumper with less than a minute left prior to halftime. Van Opstal’s hook shot could have given DLSU a two-point advantage before the first half ended, but his shot only rattled in the rim.
The opening quarter was a see-saw battle between the two, with NU posting a six-point lead, 13-7, with 4:16 on the clock. DLSU, however, took the lead, 16-15, after Vosotros sank his triple with less than two minutes left. Four straight points behind Teng and Torres catapulted the Green Archers to a 20-15 advantage with less than 25 ticks. NU forward Glenn Khobuntin trimmed their deficit to just a single possession after sinking a mid-range J with just four seconds remaining.
Vosotros led the Green Archer’s offense with 15 points, highlighted by 3 triples. Van Opstal had 14 points and grabbed six boards, while Torres had 13 markers on 6-7 shooting and grabbed 4 rebounds. Alolino paced the Bulldogs’ offense with 18 points on 7-17 shooting.
With the win, DLSU will now face the FEU Tamaraws in a playoff game for the second spot and a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four. The match date has yet to be announced.