A last-second Jeron Teng drive to the hoop spelled the difference in De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers’ tight 84-82 victory over traditional basketball rivals University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers to book a place into the quarterfinals of the FilOil Flying V Premier Cup Saturday evening at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
Both sides missed key personnel for several reasons. UST played without the services of Karim Abdul, Kevin Ferrer, and Renzo Subido while DLSU only just fielded eight men. Green Archers Prince Rivero, Arnold van Opstal, Joshua Torralba, and Renzo Navarro were also not available. Ferrer and Rivero left earlier in the week to represent the Philippines in the SEA Games while the others were dealing with injuries.
In their absence, some familiar names shone in the 40-minute encounter between the UAAP Season 76 finalists. Thomas Torres topped all scorers with 26 points, 12 of which were scored in the final quarter. The LSGH alum also hauled nine rebounds, an assist, and a steal. Rookie hotshot Andrei Caracut, Jason Perkins, and Teng provided ample support with a combined contribution of 43 points, 28 rebounds, and 11 assists. For the losing team, veterans Ed Daquioag, Kent Lao, and Louie Vigil scored 20, 14, and 13 points respectively. First year standout Mario Bonleon also lifted a good portion of the load with 10 points, but his team fell short in taking home the much-sought victory.
From the opening tip until the end, it was relatively close even if the biggest lead of the match spanned to as big as 11 points. UST actually started the game as the better team, scoring six unanswered points in the process. DLSU then broke out to come up with a 10-0 rally of their own to go ahead. Their lead was short-lived, however, with the Growling Tigers leveling the score with two quick baskets. This excerpt of the match perfectly depicts the flow of the game. Both teams have been able to string together a bunch of baskets throughout different points of the game.
DLSU ended the first quarter with a solitary lead but suddenly found themselves down by six points in the first two minutes of the second period. Coming off the bench, Vigil was the man behind UST’s early 8-1 rally by scoring a completed hoop and harm play before he drilled an open three. Incoming fourth year players Teng and Torres answered by putting together a 9-0 run, prompting UST Coach Bong Dela Cruz to call a timeout at the 4:38 mark. It went well for the Growling Tigers who took a 42-40 lead into halftime. In that stretch, Daquioag scored seven points to lead his team.
The third quarter was the most unproductive period of the match for both teams who only tallied a joint 32-point output inside 10 minutes of action. Vigil and Lao took command for UST while the backcourt tandem of Torres and Caracut, whose two triples even placed La Salle in an advantageous position midway through the penultimate round. A late 7-2 run by the Growling Tigers, which was capped of by Lao’s triple, made the game interesting by tying the score entering the final quarter.
The Green Archers looked to have pulled away in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter. At the halfway point, the Lasallians held a 10-point lead behind three triples coming from Torres and Caracut. With only 3:15 on the clock, it was slightly increased to 11 by Torres’ trifecta after Daquioag’s layup. With their backs against the wall, the Growling Tigers refused to give up. Behind the determined duo of Bonleon and Sheriff, UST unleashed the so-called Tiger Power within to reduce the deficit to two in just 85 seconds. DLSU Coach Juno Sauler wisely called for a timeout for his team to regroup.
After the summit, Torres connected from downtown for the fifth time in the game to give DLSU a five-point lead. In the ensuing play, another ex-LSGH standout in Bonleon cancelled Torres’ shot by easily swishing in a triple of his own. A split from Torres from the line was followed by a perfect trip for Daquioag to make it a one-point game with only 19.2 seconds on the clock. With no other choice but to foul, Daquioag sent Perkins to the line. The DLSU forward sank both of his shots to expand his team’s lead to three, but a Daquioag triple knotted the teams once more 10.2 seconds before the final buzzer sounded.
Pressure was high from that moment. With no more timeouts, DLSU rushed with the ball to have more time en route to the final basket. To their disappointment, however, Torres spilled the ball outside to award possession to UST. Given the chance to close out the game, the Growling Tigers also fumbled. Sheriff’s inbound was botched to return the rock to the Green Archers. Known for his ability to hit tough game-winners, Teng went for the orthodox drive to the hoop to earn DLSU the victory.
Sauler has the reputation of playing short rotations so many expected the former Green Archer to find less difficulty in the situation. However, the DLSU Head Coach told after the match that it pushed his team to the limit. “It was really difficult for us coming into the game because of the rotation that we have to live with today,” he declared.
Sauler also gave credit to his opponents, who had to play with important players out of the picture as well. Moving forward, Sauler admitted that he has no clue about how their quarterfinal opponents, the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta Atlas, play but remains adamant that the team still has a lot of work to do in all aspects.
They have four more days in order to find out before clashing with the Altas on Wednesday at 5pm.
DLSU (84) — Torres 26, Caracut 17, Perkins 14, Teng 12, Tratter 9, Gob 4, Go 2, Pascual 0
UST (82) — Daquioag 20, Lao 14, Vigil 13, Bonleon 10, Sheriff 8, Lee 8, Huang 3, Kakonda 2, Faundo 2, Arana 2, Caunan 0, Garrido 0
Quarters: 20-19, 40-42, 57-57, 84-82