Go Archers -

Archers give up 41 to the Altas in 4th. Where’s the defense?

In the world of boxing and mixed martial arts, there is an old saying to never leave your fate in the hands of the judges or their scorecards.

Needing a win or a loss of three points or less to move to the quarterfinals, the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers surrendered 41 points in the final canto and yielded to a hot-shooting Perpetual Help, 95-98 at the end of the group phase of the 2014 Filoil-Flying V Hanes Premier Cup.

What followed after the game was five minutes of tense moments and anxiety inside the Filoil-Flying V Arena as three teams: La Salle, Perpetual and Jose Rizal University (JRU) ended up tied at 4-2 win-loss records. Table officials, using the quotient system, determined that JRU finished with the highest quotient and finished as the number two team in Group A while the Green Archers took the third place and the number seven seed in the quarterfinals.

Southwestern University, who were beaten by the Green and White squad last May 24, 64-59 during the Cebu leg emerged as the top Group A team and the third seed in the quarters.

There really was no excuse for the way La Salle played in the last 10 minutes of the game. Leading by 16, 73-57 at the end of the third, Perpetual rode the hot hands of star guard JunericBaloria to trim the lead to two, 80-78 with 5:20 remaining. The sweet shooting leftie scored 17 points during that 21-7 run highlighted by four huge triples to turn the momentum in their favor.

An Almond Vosotrosthree-pointer restored the lead to five, and another one gave La Salle its last taste of the lead, 89-87 with 3:12 to go. What followed was a dismal showingfrom the freethrow linefor La Salle, with big man Arnold Van Opstal missing 3 of 4 while forward JeronTeng split his charities.

With the Atlas holding a five point lead, 93-98 and La Salle’s fate in the tournament hanging by the slimmest of hope, Van Opstal drained two charities to give the Green and White gallery a sigh of relief and a desperately “needed” three-point deficit.

The defending UAAP champions actually started on a good note, racing to an early 11-2 lead with all five starters – KibMontalbo, Vosotros, Teng, Jason Perkins, Van Opstal – each scoring at least a point. Back-to-back triples by Teng at the 2:35 mark gave the Archers a nine point lead 25-16.

The bench gave good effort in the second period as the lead ballooned to twenty, 44-24 at the midway mark courtesy of six points from rookie Julian Sargent and four points from Thomas Torres.

With the exception of the third frame, the Green Archers actually finished the quarters weaker, surrendering what was a double-digit lead, 50-39 to only nine by giving up a jumper to Atlas’ Justine Allano.

La Salle’s frontline dominated the boards, 57-43 but as a team succumbed to poor free throw shooting, converting only 40 of 59 for a 68% percentage.

Both Teng and Van Opstal paced DLSU with 20 points each. Teng, the 2013 UAAP Finals MVP added 9 boards, 5 assists and only one turnover for an all-around game.

Coach Juno Sauler used a variety of defenders, from Montalbo, Thomas Torres and Sargent to stop Baloria, but the 2013 NCAA Rookie of the Year still finished a tournament high 43-points, 22 in the final quarter, built on 5 of 7 shooting from three point range.

Pitted against a tall La Salle team, the smaller but quicker Perpetual team took advantage of 20 DLSU turnovers, converting them into 20 turnover points.

In a clear sign of unfamiliarity with regard to their opponents, the Green Archers clearly underestimated their Las Piñas counterparts to surrender their second loss in the tournament. The identity and style of play of their quarterfinal matchup should be more familiar to La Salle as they face an undefeated and dangerous Far Eastern University (FEU) on June 4.