by John Remil Isaga
The De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers escaped a dangerous University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons squad, eking out a 72-68 win in the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball wars at the Araneta Coliseum, Wednesday.
With this victory, the Taft-based squad tied defending champions National University with a 6-7 record in the battle for the last Final Four slot. While UP fell to 3-10, leading by a half game over Adamson University.
Jeron Teng led the DLSU pack with 20 points, while Paolo Rivero and Thomas Torres also gave the Archers a huge lift by combining for 29 points and 28 rebounds.
UP’s leading scorer Jett Manuel finished with a team-high 15 points but he blanked all his five attempts from three-point land. Dave Moralde also caught fire in this game, finishing with 14 points.
The Maroons were ice-cold from the opening tip. They finished the first quarter with just six points as they failed to convert their 14 attempts in the perimeter.
However, the Archers were caught off-guard at the second quarter, as the Maroons went on a 14-3 scoring spree to tear down their deficit to just one point at the half. A pair of three-pointers from Moralde and Pio Longa gave the UP faithful hope that their team could duplicate its remarkable 71-66 win during the first round.
UP continued its hot streak and extended their lead to four at the start of the third canto. However, the team was called for a technical foul when the DLSU coaching staff noticed that Longa wore the wrong team shorts.
Both teams then went back and forth with multiple field goals from an assortment of players which sent the coliseum rocking with deafening cheers. The Archers trailed by three at the end of the third, 49-52.
With their Final Four hopes on the line, the Archers went on a game-deciding 11-0 rally to put them up by nine, 69-60. UP trimmed down their deficit with a small 6-0 run but it wasn’t enough as a pair of charities from Teng put them away for good.
“We were aware that our last two games are very crucial,” said Teng after the game. “So I told myself and my teammates to take it one game at a time.”
UP will play its final game of the season against their first game victim University of the East Red Warriors next Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
UP (68) – Manuel 15, Moralde 14, Desiderio 10, Dario 9, Longa 8, Amar 6, Kone 2, Vito 2, Gallarza 2, Juruena 0, Harris 0, Jaboneta 0, Lim 0
DLSU (72) – Teng 20, Rivero 18, Torres 11, Torralba 8, Caracut 7, Perkins 4, Muyang 2, Langston 2, Go 0