So much for La Salle sweeping the second round of Season 78.
Yesterday’s game pretty much sums up both team’s characteristics this season: UST being this year’s comeback/come-from-behind team and DLSU’s inability to play a complete 40 minutes of good basketball. The veteran-laden Growling Tigers, like a seasoned, well-oiled diesel engine, knew when to put the pedal to the metal; handing La Salle a 14-2 run in the first three minutes of the final quarter to swing a 59-66 deficit to a three point lead.
Leading 45-37 at the half, every statistic pointed to great play and teamwork by the Green Archers: 22-14 advantage in points in the paint, out-rebounding UST 24-20, committing less turnovers (9 to 10) and converting UST’s errors to 12 easy points. Despite the Tigers’ Ed Daquioag having a great game through three quarters, La Salle’s defense focused their efforts on Kevin Ferrer, holding the King Tiger to 0/8 shooting en route to the seven point lead entering the fourth.
Unlike in the first encounter when DLSU had no answer for UST’s hot three-point shooting in the 3rd frame (11/24 overall) and waived the white flag early in a humbling 61-77 defeat, the effort, fight and animo was there until the final buzzer. Unfortunately, a defeat of two points or 16 still counts as the same in the team’s win-loss record.
The basketball gods sure knew how to make this game exciting. Two in-and-out three-point misses by Tomas Torres and Jeron Teng when the team was trying to catch up with the Tigers were made up by a pair of too-little-too-late conversions to settle the final score at 79-81. As heart-breaking this loss has been, the Green Archers as in much better shape compared to their form in the first round.
The ball movement (14 assists compared to UST’s five) and balanced scoring production are already signs of improvements. But much work has to be done to improve the team’s defense and limit turnovers (19, with Jeron committing five including a crucial cross-court one with 1:38 left). With six games remaining and La Salle (4-4) together with four other teams within a game off each other in the standings, every DLSU win or loss will be important from hereon.
Great frontline production
Overlooked in the season-sweeping loss were great productions by Prince Rivero and Abu Tratter. The sophomore Rivero showcased great post moves and footwork under the basket to finish with 13 points on 6/9 shooting and seven rebounds. His basket off a dish from Jeron with 4:32 left tied the game for the last time at 73-all.
Abu showed a more composed game compared to the first time (0 points and rebounds in 3 minutes) both teams met eleven days ago putting up seven points (3/3), four rebounds, a steal and a block in 22 solid minutes.
The number thirteen has been an unfortunate one for the Green Archers in their two losses against UST this season. After giving up seven three pointers and being outscored 29-13 in the 3rd quarter during round number one, DLSU once again went cold, gave up their 66-59 lead after the third canto and eventually lost the game after yielding a 13-22 fourth quarter.
With star rookie Andrei Caracut (jersey #13) missing the game due to illness, starting point guard Tomas Torres seemingly had the green light to chuck three-pointers without any hesitation and only managed to make three from 13 attempts; despite hauling nine impressive rebounds, Torres had more turnovers (four) than assists (one) and on more than one occasion was visibly annoyed by his matchup with UST’s Marvin Lee.
While the 4th year Torres did have an impressive block during the last moments of the second quarter, UST’s Lee managed to outscore Tomas 13-11 spiked by four conversions from beyond the arc. Another Tiger La Salle wasn’t able to keep an eye on was former NCAA Juniors MVP Louie Vigil, who finished with, you guessed it right, 13 points.
This week, the Archers are schedule to face hard-pressing UE and first round tormentors FEU, here’s hoping the aside from going 2-0, the team finally plays a complete, 40-minute, DLSU brand of game.
Animo La Salle!