The Green Archers and the Tamaraws left all the fighting in Davao, figuring in a highly-contested affair Sunday evening. But as the dust settled, it was La Salle who was left standing, bucking a late-game Far Eastern University comeback, 95-90.
At the forefront of La Salle’s barrage was diminutive gurad Aljun Melecio.
The former UAAP Juniors MVP got his points in threes in the first quarter, drilling two from rainbow country and strafing three points from the charity stripe. Holding a 29-11 lead after the first period, La Salle faced stronger resistance from FEU in the second quarter.
Melecio, however, kept his squad afloat comfortably, finding baskets in the paint with an array of floaterd and flip shots. The De La Salle -Zobel product tallied 20 points in the first half and led the Green Archers to a 47-32 cushion.
FEU’s backcourt duo of Wendel Comboy and Ron Dennison injected life into their squad’s charge in the third frame. The pair took turns drilling shots to bring the Tamaraws within seven, 44-51. La Salle, however, had another guard to pile up the points. Following a flagrat foul on FEU’s Hubert Cani, fourth-year playmaker Kib Montalbo punched in three consecutive trifectas and elevated the Green Archers to a daunting 21-point lead, 73-52.
The Tamaraws had their foot strapped to the gas pedal in the fourth quarter. Slowly chipping away at La Salle’s lead, FEU got their breakthrough with a 15-2 blitz, highlighted by back-to-back threes from Dennison and Comboy that left 3:12 on the game clock and La Salle with a diminished 90-85 cushion. FEU’s engine, however, ran out of gas as their late tries went for naught.
The Green Archers had the win in hand after Aljun Melecio drew a foul on Kenneth Tuffin while attempting a three. Melecio made two charities that boosted La Salle to a 92-85 lead with 16 seconds to go.
The sophompre Melecio finished with a career-high 29 points on 9-22 shooting. La Salle’s 50 percent first half shooting plummeted to 40 to end the game.
With hype built up after the scuffle between the two teams in Davao, La Salle head coach Aldin Ayo insisted that this was just an ordinary game.
“It was just an ordinary game. Both teams really wanted to win. Sa side namin, we had crucial misytakes, pero I’m confident that we’ll learn from it,” Ayo said.
Dennison managed 21 markers, seven rebounds, and four assists to pace the Tamaraws. Wendell Comboy added 13 points which includes three triples.
RJ Ramirez missed the game.
Aldin Ayo will take on a familiar face on Saturday, September 16 as the DLSU Green Archers face Jamike Jarin and NU Bulldogs. FEU, on the other hand, will go up against the UE Red Warriors on Wednesday, September 13.
DLSU 95 – Melecio 29, Caracut 16, Montalbo 12, Tratter 11, Santillan 9, Rivero P 7, Baltazar 4, Go 3, Rivero R 2, Paraiso 2, Capacio 0.
FEU 90 – Dennison 21, Comboy 13, Orizu 12, Tuffin 10, Cani 7, Tolentino 7, Parker 7, Inigo 5, Escoto 5, Trinidad 3, Nunag 0, Ebona 0, Bienes 0.
Quarterscores: 29-11, 47-32, 73-54, 95-90