By Anton Onato
Photos by Mark Conrad Salvador
Down by only four at halftime, the University of the Philippines succumbed to powerhouse De La Salle University’s endgame onslaught to fall 96-84 in the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament, Wednesday at the MOA Arena.
The win helped the Archers even their win-loss card, 1-1, after an opening overtime defeat against last year’s runner-up, University of Santo Tomas. The Maroons, who lost their first game against Adamson University last Sunday, dropped to 0-2.
“We’re actually doing our best to cope with the new system of our new coach (Juno Sauler). Siguro, ‘yung nangyari nung Sunday ay first game jitters. So thankful ako na nakabawi kami ngayon,” said Archer Jeron Teng, who delivered an all-around 20 points, four assists and two steals performance.
Almond Vosotros of DLSU started the juggernaut as he sank two triples following Teng’s back-to-back lay-up for an early 14-2 spread in the first quarter.
The Fighting Maroons, however, proved to be fighters as they stayed within striking distance behind Jason Ligad’s buzzer-beating trey, 24-19.
La Salle’s lead ballooned to double digits in the second frame as Thomas Torres scored a three, 37-26, but Henry Asilum and Marata came up to work and scored their own series of three-pointers to keep close at 48-44 going into the halftime break.
The Archers edged the Maroons in the third frame as the La Sallian big men led by Jason Perkins did a lot of damage to UP’s defense, 71-60.
But the Maroons answered back as rookies Kyles Lao and Kyle Suarez made an impact inside the court as they chipped in their own baskets scoring a lot of crucial points, 73-67. La Salle’s domination inside the paint continued as they started the fourth quarter sizzling-hot behind Perkins, who scored eight straight points, six of which coming from second chances, 96-84.
“We actually made a lot of runs but we were not able to maintain focus in the game because we were outrebounded by DLSU. We’re not as big and as tall as the DLSU players are. We just really have to work on our rebounding and when we work on that I guess it will be better for us,” said Joseph Marata, who topscored UP with 21 points on five triples.
Prized rookie Lao also made a name for himself as he scored 18 points becoming the first freshman in the season to deliver a double digit scoring performance.
DLSU 96 – Teng 20, Pekins 20, Vosotros 15, N. Torres 14, T. Torres 14, De La Paz 7, Van Opstal 6, Bolick 0
UP 84 – Marata 21, Lao 18, Asilum 12, Suarez 9, Ball 6, Soyud 5, Pascual 3, Ligad 3, Gallarza 3, Desiderio 2, Wong 0, Amar 0
Quarter scores: 24-19, 48-44, 75-67, 96-84