Holding a 66-59 lead against league leaders University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, the De La Salle University Green Archers seemed poised to finally solve the UST riddle.
However, the Espana cagers’ defense fortified the inside resulting in UST hijacking the game, 81-79, early Sunday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The Archers were limited to just 13 points in the final period with a horrendous 4/17 shooting run. More than half of their attempts in that quarter were from downtown but only two of ten were converted.
A man of few words, DLSU head coach Juno Sauler quipped that, “They made tough shots but we couldn’t shoot, couldn’t score in the end.”
With 1:37 to go in the game and with UST only holding a two-point lead, 75-73, La Salle leading scorer Jeron Teng committed a costly turnover that led to a Louis Vigil layup, giving the Growling Tigers enough cushion to seal the game. Thomas Torres and Teng missed three-pointers soon after. For Sauler, the pass Teng made was part of the game plan as his team struggled to penetrate the paint. “He could drive but UST was protecting the paint. That’s the only shot that was available but we couldn’t make it,” he reflected. “Last game, Josh [Torralba] was able to make it, this game we can’t. That’s basketball.”
Sauler also added that missing super-rookie Andrei Caracut, who hadn’t been feeling well the whole week, contributed to the loss, their fourth in eight games. “Malaking bagay din [that Andrei Caracut missed the game]. We played Renzo [Navarro] a bit more in the first half, si [Andrew] Langston we played him as well. But we missed the services of Andrei definitely,” he said.
But Juno Sauler and the Green Archers are not worried about the seedings for now, as it is still early in the tournament. “We are not looking at the standings this early. We just have to improve on what it is we are doing and hopefully in the end we can make shots. Hopefully, in the end we can make the stops as well.”