Today was supposed to be a fresh beginning for the DLSU Green Archers and their newly appointed head coach Juno Sauler in the Mall of Asia Arena. Four rookies were making their debut for La Salle against the UST Growling Tigers, led by the highly-touted Jason Perkins, and before the game, he was as excited as anyone for his UAAP coming out party.
True enough, Perkins brought his A-game to the court and he led the team with 13 points and nine rebounds in his first ever UAAP contest. Displaying the flashes of brilliance that excited the Lasallian community during the preseason, the six-foot-three forward helped inject life into a Green Archer team that faced a double digit lead and impending defeat early in the final quarter. With the veterans seemingly unable to get their rhythm, the rookie stepped up big in his first game as he rallied the team not just with his scoring, but with his outstanding hustle and sticky defense on UST, even occasionally taking on star guard Jeric Teng at the end of the game.
In the waning seconds of regulation and with the Green-and-White trailing by two points, Perkins made his first game one to remember after he made a long two pointer to tie the count at 51 and send the game into overtime.
It seemed as if La Salle had the momentum heading into overtime, yet it was Karim Abdul and Aljon Mariano who stole the show in the extra period to win the game for UST. The Cameroonian scored the first five points of the extra period and Mariano, who was struggling throughout the game with a foot injury, sealed the win with crucial free throws to take away a hard fought 63-58 win from the Green Archers.
Veteran guard Almond Vosotros was his usual steady self, scoring 13 points, highlighted by three made three pointers and seven rebounds, but he shot just 25% from the field. Meanwhile, reigning UAAP Rookie of the Year Jeron Teng scored 10 points and collected six rebounds, but his effort was tainted by seven turnovers and zero out of three free throw shooting, plus he fouled out with over a minute left to play in the fourth quarter.
On the other side, Jeric Teng finished with 23 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in 43 minutes and Abdul recorded 17 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, three blocks and six turnovers.
As a team, La Salle was called for several traveling violations on its way to 24 turnovers as opposed to UST’s 19. The team also made just nine out of 19 free throws, good for 47.4%, and they shot just 30.6% from the field. The Growling Tigers, on the other hand, made 73.9% of their free throws, and still won the match despite missing all 13 of their attempts from the three point line.
Second quarter letdown
Jeric Teng opened the game with a quick two points and it took La Salle more than three minutes to get on the scoreboard. With 6:41 left in the first period, Almond Vosotros drained a long three pointer to give La Salle a 3-2 lead then sophomores Jeron Teng and Thomas Torres scored two points each to give them a 7-2 advantage, their biggest of the first half. UST rallied though and tied the game at 10, but Teng beat the first quarter buzzer to put La Salle up, 12-10.
Midway through the second period, the game was tied at 14, but after a UST time-out, the Growling Tigers unleashed a 14-2 scoring run and they led by as much as 13 points. La Salle countered with four quick points to end the opening half and keep the lead manageable at 28-20.
In the third quarter, both teams had difficulty scoring and coach Sauler’s squad failed to score over a span of three minutes and 37 seconds. Vosotros eventually put an end to the drought with a jump shot to trim UST’s lead to five. A few possessions later, La Salle entered the penalty and it stalled their progress in cutting down the UST lead. Going into the fourth quarter, the Green Archers trailed, 40-34, and had already missed seven free throws for the game.
La Salle finally trimmed UST’s lead to three points after going back-and-forth for most of the final period after Teng made a shot underneath the basket with over three minutes left in regulation. LA Revilla then sliced through the defense to make a difficult lay-up, his first basket of the game, to trim the lead to one with two minutes to play. UST’s Paolo PE then split his charities to give them a two point cushion, but in the dying seconds of the game, Perkins drained an open jump shot after a pick-and-roll with Revilla to tie the count at 51 with 11.7 seconds left to play. On the ensuing possession, the Green Archers swarmed UST and forced Jeric Teng into a contested jumper that missed, leading to the overtime period.
One down, 13 to go
Despite the loss, the future still looks bright for DLSU. Going up against the almost-intact core of last year’s UAAP runner-up, the Green Archers showed poise down the stretch and have a promising season up ahead.
It was not all negative and the team’s strong points from last season, defense and rebounding, still remained. The Green Archers out-rebounded UST, 52-44, and despite the extra five minutes, they limited UST to just 63 points, less than what they allowed last season when they led the league in points allowed with 64.3 per game.
This team was never expected to sweep the season and this early heartbreak will help the team mature come the stretch run. Despite the loss, there are still many positives that we can take from this game and the heart of this group of players definitely stands out compared to the previous editions of this team.
Up next for La Salle are the UP Fighting Maroons whom they will face on Wednesday, July 3, at 2 PM in the Mall of Asia Arena. UP will be bannered by Joseph Marata, La Salle’s former wingman, in what will be an interesting match-up between two of the youngest teams in the league.
The Scores :
UST 63: Teng 23, Abdul 17, Bautista 6, Ferrer 7, Mariano 4, Pe 3, Hainga 2, Daquioag 2, Lo 0
DLSU 58: Perkins 13, Vosotros 13, Teng 10, T. Torres 7, N. Torres 6, Revilla 4, Reyes 4, van Opstal 1, Bolick 0, Tampus 0
Quarter Scores: 10-12, 28-20, 40-34, 51-51, 63-58