Rey Suerte was the hero the University of the East needed to down La Salle, 89-88, Saturday in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The former CESAFI MVP was blazing from deep, going 5-of-7 from downtown. He even made the game-winning trey with 3.2 seconds left to tow the Red Warriors and new head coach Bong Tan their first win of the tourney.
“One word: Suerte. Swerte lang,” said active consultant Lawrence Chongson.
Suerte finished with a career-best 31 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.
His three with 15.4 seconds left gave UE an 86-85 lead. Aljun Melecio then responded with a trey of his own with 10.8 seconds remaining, as La Salle zoomed ahead, 88-86.
But Suerte would not be denied. He knocked down the game-winner to deliver the season’s first upset.
Neil Tolentino contributed 19 points and three rebounds for UE. Jem Cruz got 13 points and eight boards in the win.
This is the Recto squad’s first since their 68-66 victory in the second round of UAAP Season 77 back in September 10, 2014. The stunner allowed UE to break a three-game skid to improve to 1-3.
On the other hand, La Salle drop to a 1-2 card.
Melecio scored 21 points, 11 coming in the payoff period, to lead the Green Archers.
Justine Baltazar also had 21 points, 17 rebounds, and two blocks. Andrei Caracut had 16 points, six assists, and four rebounds in the losing cause.
UE have a week before taking on the UP Fighting Maroons on September 21, 2:00pm, at the Ynares Center. On the other hand, La Salle look to bounce back against the FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday, 4:00pm, at the MOA Arena.
UE 89 — Suerte 31, Tolentino 19, Cruz 13, Pagsanjan 8, Apacible 6, Conner 4, Mendoza 4, Natividad 4, Abanto 0, Camacho 0, Diakhite 0, Sawat 0.
DLSU 88 — Baltazar 21, Melecio 21, Caracut 16, Serrano 14, Pado 9, Lojera 3, Bartlett 2, Manuel 2, Bates 0, Hill 0.
Quarterscores: 28-24, 48-37, 70-63, 89-88.