by Marisse Gabrielle Panaligan
The University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons lost its grip on a 20-point first half lead, allowing the De La Salle University Green Archers to sneak a come-from-behind 73-72 victory in the 74th UAAP Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Green Archers slowly erased the deficit starting the second quarter, and finally overtook the UP Fighting Maroons at the final frame to keep their final four bid alive.
“After half time, the boys woke up. Their confidence came back,” DLSU coach Dindo Pumaren said.
Norbert Torres led the Archers with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while backcourt duo Almond Vosotros and Luis Revilla combined for 23 points.
Meanwhile, team captain Mike Silungan scored 19 points, while co-captain Miggy Maniego poured in 14 points. Rookie Paolo Romero and guard Mike Gamboa finished with 12 markers apiece.
The Maroons began their offensive assault right off the bat, which left the Archers stunned with a 23-7 scoreboard at the end of the first canto.
After the Maroons’ biggest lead of the game at 33-13 in the second quarter, the Archers’ shooting spurts bridged the gap and poised them for a comeback.
However, the Archers’ first taste of the lead in the dying seconds of the third quarter was short-lived after a three-point buzzer beater from Gamboa gave the lead back to the Maroons, 50-48.
But the Archers rampaged in the fourth, staging a 9-0 run led by Vosotros, who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to give La Salle a seven-point cushion, 57-50.
Maniego and Silungan combined to propel the Maroons forward to an end game run, closing at 70-73 with less than 15 seconds left. But their attempts to send the game into overtime fell short of a single point.
The Maroons will face the University of the East, whom they defeated in the first round, for their final game of the season on Saturday.
“We will treat it as our own championship game,” Silungan said.