The DLSU Green Archers exorcised their weekend blues with a nail-biter of a win, 57-55, over the NU Bulldogs. The reigning champions broke into the Season 77 win column in dramatic fashion, with Jason Perkins’ shot clock-beating layup handing the disappointed Bulldogs their first loss of the competition.
Skilled forward Jason Perkins came up huge for the Archers throughout the contest, hauling in 7 rebounds as well as 14 points, none more important than his shot clock-beating under-goal stab, which gave the Archers a crucial 57-53 advantage with a shade over 6 seconds to play. NU star Alfred Aroga, who led his team with 12 points, 9 boards and 2 blocks, was left to rue a comical late-game collision with teammate Gelo Alolino that resulted in Perkins’ cushioning basket. With La Salle holding a 55-53 lead, Aroga looked to have secured a defensive rebound and possession for NU with 8.7 seconds left on the clock, but Alolino clumsily knocked into his teammate, jarring the ball free and granting DLSU a second opportunity to seal the game. With 1.9 seconds left on the shot-clock, Perkins received the inbound pass under the hoop, and squeezed in his clutch lay-up through the flailing arms of Aroga, earning what would eventually be the game-winning basket.
The Bulldogs actually started the game the stronger of the two squads, with the athletic Glenn Khobuntin and Aroga combining for a 6-point NU advantage early in the second quarter. Coach Juno Sauler responded by fielding a towering frontcourt of Perkins, Norbert Torres, and Arnold Van Opstal. The switch to the taller line-up befuddled the NU defence, as the trio went on a 9-0 tear, handing La Salle the lead they would retain for most of the match. The Archers would head to the lockers at half-time with a 35-29 advantage. After the interval, NU head man Eric Altamirano successfully adjusted his tactics to account for DLSU’s triple tower formation, and the Archers found scoring a much trickier proposition in the second half. The Archers’ parade of miscues was led by guards Jeron Teng and Almond Vosotros, who somehow conspired to miss 21/27 shots from the field, and 11/17 from the free-throw line. Thankfully for the DLSU faithful, the Bulldogs’ perimeter offense had also stuttered to a standstill, as Khobuntin, who had started the game so brightly, misfired on 9 of his 12 shots to finish with only 9 points. Alolino was also unable to replicate his star turn in NU’s previous match and contributed a lacklustre 9 points on 10 shots for the Bulldogs. All in all, the two UAAP squads chucked their way to a combined 36% from the field. With points at a premium and the game on the line, Norbert Torres, who finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds, went on a personal 6-2 run with 5 minutes to go in the fourth quarter to give his Taft-based team a 51-49 lead, which they would not relinquish.