The DLSU Green Archers survived a late rally by the FEU Tamaraws to gain the twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four via a 74-69 victory on a windy Saturday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Led by the resurging LA Revilla, who had a season-high 20 points and six three pointers, La Salle clinched their eighth straight win, the longest streak posted by any team so far this season. Jason Perkins added 14 points and seven rebounds. Meanwhile, Jeron Teng continued his aggresive play and contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
The starting point guard Revilla made the biggest and most timely shots, including the pivotal three-pointer with just 55 seconds remaining in the game which padded the Green Archers’ lead to eight.
“I was just blessed, I made my open shots,” shared the veteran guard after the game.
The Green Archers opened the game on a high note. With missed attempts plaguing the Tamaraws early in the first period, the Taft-based squad capitalized on their miscues, closing the quarter with an 18-11 edge.
In the second quarter, the lead was further shaped by a well-oiled offensive attack from La Salle. Revilla, Thomas Torres and Matt Salem contributed in a run which allowed the Green Archers to post a lead of as much as twelve points. Setting a field goal percentage of 47.1 percent as compared to FEU’s 30.3 at the halftime buzzer, the Green-and-White dominated the scoring to clasp the game to their favor at 37-27.
Coming out of the halftime dugout, both teams played a physical brand of basketball as their defenses turned up by a notch and as a result, both teams found themselves in the penalty early on. Almond Vosotros unfortunately could not break out of his shooting slump, but he found his only field goal of the game off an outlet pass to give him an easy layup. The starting guard had an off-game with a dismal 1-for-13 shooting performance.
FEU almost pulled off a comeback in the final period, outscoring La Salle by six, 20-14, highlighted by an 8-0 surge courtesy of Gryann Mendoza’s two three-pointers and a jumper from Terrence Romeo. The Tamaraws were able to cut the deficit to as low as five points. A lack of time went against FEU though and in the final minutes they were forced to foul their opponents intentionally to regain possession, but three out of four foul shots were converted by La Salle with just a few seconds left to clinch the game by five, 74-69.
Making it rain
The boys from Taft seemed to have stolen a page from FEU’s play book as they exploded from three point territory with 11 made three point shots, eight of them coming in the first half. Much credit can be given to DLSU’s shooting coach Allan Caidic, as his mentees have drastically improved from the three-point and freethrow lines. Jeron Teng continued his high foul line shooting percentage as he missed only once in six tries for an 83 percent clip.
Both teams are set to match up again on Wednesday, at 4 pm in the SMART- Araneta Coliseum. La Salle holds a twice-to-beat advantage in their upcoming semifinal series against FEU and are looking to immediately enter the finals with a victory. Moreover, the Green Archers are currently on an eight-game winning streak, however, FEU is looking to extend the series to get back into the finals after missing it last year and losing two seasons ago. The Green Archers are now a win away from their first finals apperance since 2008, when they were still led by coach Franz Pumaren and ace guard Jayvee Casio.
Will La Salle extend their streak to nine to book a trip to the finals? Or will the Tamaraws end it and extend the series for a do-or-die game? Playoff basketball is not entirely dependent on statistics, and only the team that plays tougher and smarter will have an edge in the next game.
DLSU 74: Revilla 20, Perkins 14, Teng 13, Van Opstal 6, Torres T. 6, Salem 6, Vosotros 4, Torres N. 3, Tampus 2, De La Paz 0
FEU 69: Romeo 22, Garcia 16, Belo 9, Tolomia 6, Mendoza 6, Pogoy 4, Hargrove 4, Cruz 2, Sentchu 0
Quarter scores: 18-11, 37-27, 60-49, 74-69