by Edison Ubaldo
Almond Vosotros fired 13 of his 21 points in the pivotal pay-off period to propel the De La Salle University to another endgame breakaway against the University of the Philippines, 76-69, in the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament Thursday at the MOA Arena.
Vostros scored all but three markers in a decisive 14-4 run in the fourth quarter that turned a slim 55-54 edge into a comfortable 69-58 cushion with less than five minutes left. He was 3-of-6 from rainbow country and 4-of-5 from the stripe.
“It’s a tough win for us,” said DLSU Head Coach Gee Abanilla. “Their (UP) record really doesn’t show the way they’ve been playing.”
UP had an had an early 4-0 lead in the opening canto but the response was quick as DLSU center Norberto Torres scored six straight unanswered points en route to a 10-4 gap with still 5:17 to play.
The Archers managed to extend the lead to nine, 43-34, on rookie Jeron Teng’s onslaught but Maroons’ center, Raul Soyud, fired a jumper that sparked a 14-2 blast capped by forward Paolo Romero’s shot from down low to seize the lead at 48-45 going into the last four minutes of the first half.
But that would be as far as they go with the rampaging Archers triggering a 9-0 blitz on Vosotros and forward Jovet Mendoza’s heroics. Maroon guard Jett Manuel broke the dry spell via a lay-up with the clock winding but still trailed 50-54 entering the final canto.
It was then all Vosotros’ show negating UP skipper Mike Silungan’s 12-point fourth quarter explosion.
Teng and Torres supplemented Vosotros’ performance by contributing 19 and 13 points respectively.
Manuel, who played a key role in UP’s scoring runs, finished with 12 points on 5-of-5 free throw shooting while co-skipper Mark Lopez added 10 points.
The Fighting Maroons forced the Green Archers to 17 turnovers, against their 10, and scoring 24 points off those, versus DLSU’s seven points. But UP was outrebounded, 49-33, giving La Salle more looks on the scoreboard.
At the bottom of the standings with a 1-11 win-loss card, UP will face second-ranked University of Santo Tomas on Saturday, 2 pm at the MOA Arena.