The De La Salle University Green Archers were poised to earn a playoff game against the National University Bulldogs, as Coach Nash Racela and the FEU Tamaraws fielded their second and third unit for the majority of the game.
However, even up against the starting five of the Archers in crunch time, Monbert Arong and Roger Pogoy led the Tamaraws bench to a shocking fourth quarter hijack, 71-68, to eliminate La Salle for the second straight season, early Wednesday evening at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Jumpshots were dropping successively for the Tamaraws as they shattered the 4-4 start with an 8-2 scoring spree in the middle of the first quarter to establish their biggest lead of the game at 6. Achi Iñigo and Richard Escoto would then combine for four points apiece to give FEU a 22-19 lead, notwithstanding Prince Rivero’s early assertion on the other end.
Rivero would enter double digit scoring in the first possession of the second quarter, which initiated a 7-0 run for La Salle within two minutes. FEU tied the game once again at 26, but the Green Archers’ defense limited the Tamaraws to only two points in the last 5:50 of the first half. Balanced scoring for DLSU during the stretch increased their lead, was capped by two free throws by Jeron Teng to give the Archers a 38-29 cushion at the break.
Scoring continued for the Archers as they continued to romp the Tamaraws, who were playing Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia in limited minutes throughout the match. By the 1:01 mark of the third, a triple by Thomas Torres established La Salle’s biggest lead of the match at 52-37. However, FEU capitalized on La Salle’s early entrance to penalty situation as the Tamaraws drained eight free throws during the period and closed the third down by single digits.
FEU head coach Nash Racela started bench players Monbert Arong, Francis Tamsi, Wendel Comboy, and Prince Orizu together with starting floor general Achie Inigo to start the fourth quarter. After a three-point play by Jeron Teng extended the La Salle lead to 57-45 with 7:40 remaining, a split on the stripe by Trinidad sparked a 10-0 run. Trinidad capped things by finding a wide-open Pogoy for a triple that cut the lead to just two with 4:32 remaining. That triple was just the start for the fifth-year Cebuano. Pogoy responded to conversions by Torres and Rivero with a fadeaway and a triple, coming from Steve Holmqvist, to cut the lead to just a solitary point with 3:13 left. After a travel was called on Rivero, the in-form Pogoy knocked down a huge go-ahead rainbow to give FEU the lead 63-61. Pogoy was brought back to the bench after the play.
The Tamaraws then managed to make a huge stop as seldomly-used Ken Holmqvist blocked a Perkins layup, paving the way for an acrobatic layup by Arong to extend the FEU lead to four. After a La Salle timeout, their last in regulation, Rivero converted on a reverse layup but it was answered by a pullup jumper by Arong. La Salle were able to cut the lead to just one after a Teng and-one play. A miss by Arong gave La Salle a chance to at least take the lead but Torralba’s corner triple badly missed with 39.1 seconds remaining. However, an inbound play went wrong for the Tamaraws as Ken Holmqvist miscommunicated with his guard Trinidad on a handoff, resulting in a turnover. Teng, though, missed a well-contested layup and had to foul Steve Holmqvist. The Davaoeno split his charity, however, but was fortunate that the rebound by Thomas Torres was ruled out-of-bounds. In the ensuing play, Arong was able to convert on two free throws to give FEU a 69-66 lead with 12.8 remaining. Teng was able to convert on a layup five seconds later, but the Green Archers failed to foul an FEU player. That resulted in Steve Holmqvist finding a wide-open Trinidad for a layup, giving the Tamaraws a 71-68 win and eliminating La Salle from the Final Four for the first time since season 74.
“The objective of the game was to keep the guys fresh. Ateneo’s resting right now and this is a non-bearing game for us,” coach Nash Racela said after the game. “The intention was to minimize the minutes of the starters.”
However, “the chance to win presented itself,” Racela continued. “This game gave the other players preparation for the Final Four. We saw a lot of players who could play. What they only needed were the opportunity and the exposure.”
Pogoy, who scored all 11 points in the fourth quarter, added that “Napaghandaan lang namin. Gusto ko pumasok kami sa Final Four na may momentum.” Pogoy shot just 4/9 from the field but had four boards and three triples.
Monbert Arong added 13 points, on 4/13 shooting from the field but 5/5 from the charity stripe, in just 17 minutes of action. Smart Elite ambassador Mac Belo had ten points and five boards in 13 minutes of game time.
Jeron Teng led La Salle by 22 points. He was 7/22 from the field and 6/7 from the foul stripe. Smart Elite ambassador Prince Rivero added 16 poinys on 8/15 shooting. Both grabbed nine boards each.
As a team, La Salle shot better at a 41.18% clip compared to just 36% by FEU. However, the Tamaraws out-rebounded the Green Archers 51-44 that led to 19 second chance points. In addition, they were able to force the Green Archers into 15 turnovers.
The FEU Tamaraws will face the Ateneo Blue Eagles on Sunday, November 22 at 3:00pm. FEU will hold a twice-to-beat advantage. The De La Salle University Green Archers, with a 6-8 slate, will finish the season at fifth place.
FEU (71) – Arong 13, Pogoy 11, Belo 10, Iñigo 9, Ri. Escoto 8, Orizu 5, Ru. Escoto 4, Trinidad 3, Tamsi 2, K. Holmqvist 2, Tolomia 2, S. Holmqvist 2, Comboy 0, Eboña 0.
DLSU (68) – Teng 20, Rivero 16, Torralba 8, Torres 7, Perkins 6, Muyang 5, Caracut 3, Langston 3, Gob 0.
Quarterscores: 22-19, 29-38, 45-54, 71-68.
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