Saddled with a double-digit disadvantage after three quarters of uninspired basketball, the DLSU Green Archers flashed their championship pedigree with an outstanding 4th quarter, snatching a 60-58 victory from the heartbroken UE Red Warriors. DLSU’s second straight win places them at 2-2 while previously unbeaten UE slides to 2-1. DLSU’s Jeron Teng led the Archers with 18 points on 6/12 shooting, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, none bigger than his game-winning dish to prize rookie Prince Rivero with only 44 seconds to play. UE superstar Roi Sumang, who could only manage 16 points on 19 shots, saw his tightly contested game-tying jumper miss badly as time expired.
A jittery opening salvo saw both squads combine for 18 turnovers and a pedestrian 33% from the field. DLSU held the early advantage behind big man Norbert Torres’ 6 points, but the Red Warriors snatched the lead heading into the second quarter as swingman Paul Varilla swished a three with only 43s left in the period. UE would hold onto that slender advantage for 10 more minutes and head into the lockers at half-time with a 28-26 lead, as the Red Warriors would continue to trade misses and turnovers with the similarly sloppy Green Archers. DLSU’s 22 turnovers at the break would put them on pace to top FEU’s unwanted record of 43 turnovers in a single game.
Half-time proved to be no salve for the Archer’s carelessness, as Derrick Pumaren’s Red Warriors employed a ferocious, turnover-generating full-court press to start the third period. Long-time DLSU fans no doubt cringed at the irony of UE dismantling La Salle’s offense with withering pressure on ball-handler Almond Vosotros, who would throw the ball away 4 times in the quarter, as much as the entire UE team combined. All in all, Vosotros and the rest of the befuddled Archers would contrive to hand possession to UE 10 times in the period, jacking up their turnover total to 32. Sumang would compound Vosotros’ third quarter woes by lighting up the DLSU veteran for 7 points, carving out a double-digit advantage for the Red Warriors. Additionally, forward Jason Perkins, who led the Archers in scoring in their previous match-up with the NU Bulldogs, picked up his 4th foul in that tumultuous quarter, further complicating the plans of DLSU’s head coach Juno Sauler.
However, reigning champions DLSU ripped up UE’s celebration plans with a furious rally to start the decisive quarter. The resurgent Archers, led by the indomitable Torres, would ignite a 14-4 run by relentlessly attacking the suddenly soft interior defence of the Red Warriors. A foul-marred stretch saw the big man corps of both teams get decimated, as DLSU’s Van Opstal and Perkins, and UE’s Charles Mammie and lanky wunderkind Moustapha Arafat, each picked up their fifth foul. King Archer Jeron Teng pounced on the vulnerable frontcourt of the Red Warriors, driving through their defence for a tough lay-up and two game-icing assists to the unfazed neophyte Rivero. The Archers would end up scoring 24 points to UE’s 12 in the period, breaking the hearts of the many expectant UE faithful in the crowd.