By: David Tristan Yumol
MANILA – August 6 was not the day we were hoping for.
The UP Fighting Maroons continued its slump on Aug.6 as they bowed down to defending champions De La Salle University Green Archers, 53-74, in the UAAP Season 77 Seniors’ Men’s Basketball wars at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Season 76 top rookie Kyles Lao was the lone double-digit scorer for the Diliman-based dribblers with 13 points but struggled in the field with only 36 percent shooting success. Swingman Dave Moralde was also a far cry from his usual touches this season as he notched only eight points, with a 25 percent shooting efficiency.
The Maroons, who fell to a 0-6 record for the first round of this season, were missing the services of its head coach Rey Madrid who was banned for two games due to his comments regarding the wrong calls done by a referee in their 57-73 loss against UST on Sunday.
“We failed to stop La Salle early in scoring, especially in the inside. That is why we weren’t able to come back in the game,” Maroon point guard Mikee Reyes said.
Jeron Teng led the pack for the Taft-based cagers as he scored double-double with 25 points and 11 boards. Sweet-shooting point guard Almond Vosotros added 15 points, with a 75 percent shooting success at the three-point area, as La Salle extended its winning streak to four after a 0-2 start early in the season.
The former Xavier High standout was a big factor in the first quarter as he scored seven points to lead a 17-0 run by the Green Archers, leading 20-4 in the scoreboard. Rookie Prince Rivero and Vosotros chipped in four points apiece in that run which held the Maroons scoreless in seven minutes.
DLSU strengthened its hold of the lead in the second quarter with Teng dropping nine points there as the interior defense of UP failed to spark. Slotman Jason Perkins and freshman Abu Tratter also exposed this gap with each having their own three-point inside plays.
UP tried to trim down the lead in the second half, with shots from Moralde, guard Henry Asilum and reserve Vince Bederi. But La Salle continued its scoring rampage with back-to-back treys of Vosotros, and inside shots of bigman Norbert Torres and sophomore guard Kib Montalbo.
The bigs of La Salle also maintained its towering inside defense in the second half, limiting UP to below 17 points in each quarter. This loss gives State U its 27th straight loss dating back to Seasom 75.
“La Salle did an excellent job in their defense, which really stopped us from coming back,” Reyes said, who contributed six points in the game.
Meanwhile, the Lady Maroons was beaten by the Lady Bulldogs on the same day, 44-57, at the Blue Eagle Gym.
The Fighting Maroons will end its first round campaign as they battle fellow winless Adamson University on Saturday, 2 PM, at the Mall of Asia Arena. On the other hand, UP will face FEU for the women’s basketball division on Sunday, 8 AM, at the Blue Eagle Gym. –with reports from Mark Kevin Reginio