De La Salle University came back from nine points down in the fourth to survive the upset-seeking University of Santo Tomas, 77-72, to stave off elimination in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.
The Green Archers (7-7) now hope for an Adamson University (7-6) loss later against Ateneo de Manila University. That will force a knockout match for the last Final Four ticket.
“It was a hard-fought ball game. We were missing players again and, as I told the guys, that it’s been a rough season for us,” said La Salle head coach Derrick Pumaren said, missing Mike Phillips and Kevin Quiambao – both ‘under-the-weather’.
Schonny Winston played just three seconds to inbound the ball in the last minute of the match.
“We just have to keep playing and just gonna do our part. The boys hang tough out there, it was a total team effort,” he added.
Royce Mantua’s three-pointer at the 8:26 mark of the payoff period gave the Growling Tigers a nine-point lead, 69-60.
However, that would be their last field goal until a buzzer-beater by Richi Calimag.
On the other hand, Mark Nonoy, JC Macalalag, Evan Nelle, and Ben Phillips linked for 17 points to give the Green Archers the win.
It was Macalalag who put La Salle on top after his jumper with 1:50 left. Christian Manaytay was called for a foul on Phillips, sending the latter to the line.
Phillips calmly drained both, 73-69.
Nelle delivered 25 points, four rebounds, and four assists, while Raven Cortez stepped up with 13 points and four rebounds.
Mantua had 17 points on five triples for UST. Cabanero got 16 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
Calimag also showed out in their last game of the season with 10 points, while Adama Faye added nine points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks.
After an opening-day win against the Soaring Falcons, the Growling Tigers lost the next 13 games to finish at 1-13.
Jamba Garing has played his last game for UST.
La Salle 77 — Nelle 25, Cortez 13, Nonoy 10, B. Phillips 8, Macalalag 6, Austria 5, Estacio 3, Abadam 2, Buensalida 2, Manuel 2, Nwankwo 1, Winston 0.
UST 72 — Mantua 17, Cabanero 16, Calimag 10, Faye 9, Pangilinan 5, Manalang 4, Laure 4, Manaytay 4, Lazarte 3, Duremdes 0, Garing 0, Escobido 0.
Quarterscores: 21-27, 37-42, 55-59, 77-72.