MVP Cup: Green Archers seizes thriller opener against Ateneo
With a UAAP-like atmosphere, the De La Salle Green Archers defeated rival Ateneo de Manila, 67-65, in the FilOil-Flying V Preseason Manny V. Pangilinan Cup opener at the FilOil-Flying V Arena in San Juan on April 18.
A bevy of Archers, from up and coming main team players to battle-scarred veterans, gave key contributions in the clutch to stave off a determined Ateneo side.
Tata Marata sandwiched a Jai Reyes three-pointer with his own trifectas to give the Green Archers a four-point margin going into the last two minutes, 62-58.
After Noynoy Baclao failed to complete a three-point play, Maui Villanueva was determined to score off least year’s UAAP men’s basketball MVP Rabeh Al-Hussaini that his second reverse lay in rocked the green and white gallery to make it 64-60 with a minute and 12 ticks remaining in the game.
With Reyes making two of three freethrow attempts, Bader Malabes then drove off Kirk Long in an isolation play, getting a foul from Al-Hussaini for an and-one play and a five-point margin, 67-62, exactly 19 seconds to go.
Nevertheless, DLSU was not out of the woods yet as Reyes converted a three less than nine seconds elapsed. After rookie Joel Tolentino flubbed his trip to the charity, Eric Salamat played hero but missed his attempt from beyond the arc at the buzzer.
“It was a welcome game for my rookies,” said De La Salle head coach Franz Pumaren. “I am happy with my rookies and they responded well.”
The five on the floor for DLSU in the key stretch were rookies Marata and Tolentino, sophomore Villanueva, and veterans Malabes and James Mangahas.
Malabes topscored with 12 points and five assists. Other Archers who had significant stats were Tolentino with six markers and three steals, Villanueva with four, eight boards, and two thefts, and Mangahas with six rebounds and six feeds.
Ferdinand also contributed fiver rebounds and three blocked shots.
At the other end, Reyes led ADMU with 16 points, four rebounds, and five steals. Al-Hussaini had a double-double afternoon with ten and ten along with two assists.
Baclao contributed nine points, six rebounds, and four assists, while Salamat had eight, four boards, six dimes, and five steals.
With loud drums, an ecstatic crowd, physical play by both sides, and a number of referees’ lapses, it seemed that the collegiate basketball season started earlier than usual.
The Taft-based squad started out hot with a 7-0 run and set the tone early with its smooth ball movement, hustle, and transition offense. The Archers led by as many as ten, 22-12, after Peejay Barua completed a fastbreak with touch passes from Tolentino and Malabes, 7:01 in the second period.
Nevertheless, Pumaren downplayed his team’s progress despite winning against the school’s deep-seated rival in several instances after the UAAP basketball season.
“Everybody is trying to get in shape. We are just 10% in better shape than Ateneo,” Pumaren opined. “Preseason tournaments are a getting to know each other period among the coaching staff and the nucleus of the team.”
With the constant pushing and shoving and numerous cheapshots, things heated up when an altercation broke out in the 3:15 mark of the third quarter.
With the score pegged at 44-41 in favor of DLSU, Al-Hussaini gave Mangahas a hard forearm at the back of the head as the latter was going for a layup. Mangahas did not take it in stride and confronted the hulking Blue Eagle.
Then in comes Salamat to verbalize his thoughts which turned into a shoving contest between him and Mangahas and a technical foul assessed on both.
“Ateneo-La Salle is always an emotional game,” Pumaren remarked. “It is part and parcel of the rivalry already. It adds spice and creates more awareness in collegiate basketball.”
There were in only two occasions Ateneo took the upperhand with the last one courtesy of a Bacon Austria trey from a Salamat assist, 2:11 of the third, 46-45.
This was quickly countered by successive heaves from beyond the arc by Joshua Webb and Malabes. The third year Fil-Bahraini finished the 9-0 rally with a teardrop to start the final period, 54-46, 9:35 in the clock.
The Ateneans had one more go as they went near by one, 55-56, with a Salamat spin move lay up, 3:44 remaining, which forced Pumaren to sue for time to quell the momentum. It was then at that point that the Archers took over starting with a Marata three-pointer at the corner.
Game photos at http://greenarchersph.multiply.com
La Salle 87 – Malabes 12, Webb 8, Bagatsing 7, Marata 6, Tolentino 6, Barua 5, Villanueva 4, Atkins 4, Revilla 3, Ferdinand 3, Co 3, Mangahas 2, Batricevic 2, Andrada 2, Banal 0, Paredes 0.
Ateneo 65 – Reyes 16, Al-Husseini 10, Baclao 9, Salamat 8, Salva 4, Baldos 4, Chua 4, Austria 3, Lon 3, Golla 2, Buenafe 2, Tiongson 0, GOnzaga 0, De Chavez 0 , Burke 0.
Quarter Scores: 11-8, 31-27, 52-46, 67-65