The De La Salle Green Archers went toe to toe for 40 minutes against the defending champions until fatigue set in overtime as Ateneo de Manila won, 76-72, on August 9 to end the first round of UAAP men’s basketball eliminations at the Araneta Coliseum.
After Arvie Bringas and Hyram Bagatsing scored consecutive three-pointers in the final 20 seconds of regulation to send the game into extra time, the Archers tried to salvage the game in which they led by as many as ten early in the third period. Alas, their attempts from beyond the arc went wild and wooly as Nico Salva sealed the outcome with a bucket, :14.7 to go, for the final tally.
Nevertheless, the saving grace of this game is that the rookie laden squad held their ground against the more mature Blue Eagles.
Joshua Webb went crazy to end up with 17 points in the first half, finishing with 26. This is the highest output of any Archer so far this season.
Bringas also had ten.
Rabeh Al-Hussaini limped out with 13 points with Eric Salamat producing the same along with five assists and three steals.
Jovet Mendoza made himself known, scoring six straight points to end the first quarter. In the second, it was the heady plays of Yutien Andrada at the defensive end that went noticed, blocking Al-Hussaini twice and Salamat once.
But all that time, it was Webb who was carrying the scoring load for the green and white, relentlessly attacking the Ateneo interior defense, scoring nine of the 14 Archer points in the second canto.
Bringas started the second half with a turn around basket for the game’s first double figure lead, 42-32. The last time it reached ten was from two Webb charities, 46-36, 7:02 remaining.
As the green and white went ‘three-ger’ happy, the Blue Eagles gradually crept themselves back into the game, capped by a Ryan Buenafe buzzer beater to end the third, with the Archers cautiously ahead, 50-46.
A 14-3 run by ADMU shifted the momentum to the blue side as it tasted the lead for the first time since the first quarter, 60-57, courtesy of a two-man play between Salva and Salamat leading to a Salamat trey, 3:36 in the clock.
A Salva followup and a Salamat split from the freethrow line for a four-point Ateneo lead, 65-61, with :23.5 to go set the tone for the comeback. Coming from a timeout, Bringas hoisted a cold-hearted three from Bagatsing’s inbounds pass from a straddle, exactly three ticks elapsing.
After Buenafe made his freebies from a Mendoza duty foul, Bagatsing faked Austria off his socks for a leaning three-pointer from near the top of the key, :0.8. Bringas almost won it but his attempt hit rim and bounced out as time expired.
The second round begins on Thursday for the Archers as they battle Adamson University at 2pm. As a sidenote, the whole team had yellow shoe laces to pay tribute to the late President Corazon Aquino.