The league-leading DLSU Green Archers were struggling to find their rhythm versus the winless UE Red Warriors in their sixth game of UAAP Season 79 where they only managed to convert seven out of 44 jump shots, a season-low.
The situation grew even more difficult for the Green Archers after head coach Aldin Ayo was ejected for protesting a non-call in flamboyant fashion. Ayo ran onto the court and attempted to put on a pair of glasses on one of the referees before he was eventually restrained.
The Red Warriors took advantage of the situation and continued to hound La Salle with their defense, forcing the Green-and-White to commit a season-high 36 turnovers over the course of the game. With a 7-0 scoring run, UE managed to cut its deficit to four points, 78-74, with 1:39 remaining in the game. The Red Warriors came close to completing the biggest upset of the season, but Prince Rivero and Andrei Caracut—who were both relatively silent over La Salle’s first five outings—stepped up to save the Green Archers.
“Nawala si Coach physically, but he was there with us all throughout the game. He was still in our hearts and his energy was with us,” said Rivero after the game.
Rivero finished with 11 points on nine of 10 free throw shooting and eight rebounds, while Caracut added nine points on 50 percent field goal shooting and four rebounds. Both players only logged in a combined 21 minutes, but closed out the game for the Green Archers.
“You’re only as good as your last game. After nitong game, wala na iyan,” said the sophomore on scoring his season-high in the vital moments of the game.
Attitude above all
Rivero was the second-best in the team in both scoring and rebounding last season, averaging 11.1 points along with 8.2 rebounds per game. Caracut, on the other hand, took home Rookie of the Year honors with an average of 9.2 points per game. Both players have struggled to establish themselves this year in the stacked lineup of La Salle.
This season, the averages of Rivero, who was benched versus the AdU Soaring Falcons, have decreased to 4.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. Caracut’s scoring has also gone down to a mere four points per game.
When asked on his performance and limited playing time, Rivero remained upbeat even over the latter. “It doesn’t matter if I don’t get the playing time. It’s okay, it’s a team. If we win the game, it’s not just the guy in the court who’ll win.”
Caracut on the other hand, iced the Red Warrior scoring-run as he converted the dagger three-pointer, which gave La Salle an 81-74 lead with 1:01 remaining on the clock. “Syempre nagpapractice kami. Parehas lang ginagawa ko [during practice],” said the sophomore. “Nabigyan ako ng chance na makalaro, binigay ko yung best,” added Caracut on the opportunity he was given to shine.
The possibility of a one game suspension for coach Ayo has come at an unfavorable time for the Green Archers. As to the high chances of losing their head coach in Sunday’s upcoming rivalry game versus the ADMU Blue Eagles, Rivero further mentioned the strength of the the team and their trust in the system. “During a crisis like this, we stick together even more. The strength of each and everyone is the strength of the team.”
Amid the stacked lineup of the Green Archers, Lasallians will have to wait until October 2 to find out who will rise up to the challenge of facing the Blue Eagles.