The DLSU Green Archers’ title run has been a spectacle for basketball fans, especially for Lasallians. From the opening game against the FEU Tamaraws to the final buzzer against the ADMU Blue Eagles, each game was filled with moments worth telling future generations. From the numerous intense and emotional moments the team provided, The LaSallian counts down the 10 most memorable.
10. Jason Perkins and Julian Sargent return to Taft
Although the conspicuous leaders of the team are Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng, the Green Archers would not have come as far as they did without the key presence of veterans Jason Perkins and Julian Sargent. Both were already playing for the PBA D-League before the season began, but came back for one more season.
Perkins brought in experience as a member of the 2013 championship team with the likes of Jeron Teng, Thomas Torres, and Kib Montalbo. When asked about the unsung hero of the finals, Ayo, without hesitation, answered, “Sargent. Jules,” describing him as the game-changer for his underlooked defensive efforts.
9. Kib Montalbo seals the deal
With only a minute to go, DLSU led by only two after losing most of its 17 point lead to an AdU Soaring Falcon scoring run. Kib Montalbo, however, would not let the Green Archers’ undefeated record get blemished. With only 46.7 seconds remaining in the game, the Bacolod native hit a cold-blooded three-pointer that extended the La Salle lead to five. In essence, the shot stopped the Soaring Falcons’ surge and provided separation for DLSU. Eventually, the team from Taft would close out the game, 86-79, to improve its record to a perfect eight wins and zero losses.
8. Debunking the “puro-import myth” versus the UST Growling Tigers
In a 99-56 blow-out win over UST, coach Aldin Ayo was able to experiment with some interesting lineup combinations late in the game. Most noteworthy of all was one that has been referred to as the “Big Lineup,” which featured Cameroonian Mbala and four Fil-Ams, namely Perkins, Sargent, Tratter, and Mark Dyke. While they only played together for about two minutes, it was something that got the attention of the UAAP community, Lasallian and non-Lasallian alike.
7. Ayo shows Abu Tratter some love
After committing costly turnovers on successive possessions in a game against the Soaring Falcons, Tratter was probably expecting a seat on the bench. Instead, he got a hug and a pat on the back from his head coach, who just smiled and told him to forget about it. On the very next play, coach Ayo drew up a play for Tratter, in which the power forward delivered with a hook shot from the post. A little belief from a coach can go a long way in the development of any player.
6. Coach Ayo attempts to give referee glasses
Struggling against the then-last place UE Red Warriors in their first round matchup, the Green Archers were frustrated with the extreme physicality of play. After it looked like Torres was apparently shoved by a UE player in a scuffle for the ball, coach Ayo had enough. To prove a point, he attempted to put a pair of glasses, which belonged to Siot Tanquingcen. The official was obviously not amused as he ejected Ayo from the game right before halftime, but Ayo made his message clear.
5. Ricci Rivero soars for the reverse dunk
Dyke takes a dribble after a UST turnover and immediately passes it to Ricci Rivero who is already running past the half court line. With his team leading by 37 with two minutes left in the game, the La Salle Green Hills standout receives the ball, dribbles once, takes a long step, another one, all the while focusing his eyes on the rim. A player known for his athleticism, the high-flying Rivero leaps on the second step, twists his body and goes in for a reverse dunk. He hangs onto the rim a bit, gets off, and smiles upon landing.
4. Aljun Melecio rises up to the occasion
A lot can be said about former De La Salle Zobel Junior Archer Aljun Melecio, but the common denominator may be that he is gutsy. In his first finals series against ADMU, he displayed the confidence of a fifth-year veteran.
With almost 4:31 left in the third quarter of Game 1, he receives the ball on the top of the key. The point guard takes a dribble to the left and pulls up for a three-pointer over high school rival Thirdy Ravena. He puts La Salle up by four, 63-59, turns to the crowd, raises a finger to his mouth, silencing the sea of blue.
“Naiinis ako. Ang ingay nila eh”, he commented later on. The rookie went on to finish with 12 points on four of seven three-pointers, all of which were delivered timely.
3. Mbala takes to the skies over the Blue Eagles
La Salle led ADMU, 74-55, with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Coming off a turnover, Torres runs the fastbreak, being trailed by Thirdy Ravena while Mbala trails not too far off. At this point, the La Salle crowd begins to stand, knowing what is going to come in a few moments. Torres throws a lob, a bad pass that is a little bit backwards. Mbala still jumps, reaches his right hand for the ball, and throws it down. The crowd, the TV commentators, and even Mbala were astonished by the picture perfect moment. “I’m not going to lie, I was surprised myself. I was like, ‘Woah.’ I was just going hard and whatever happened, happened,” Mbala explains.
2. Jeron Teng’s Game 1 heroics
With 20 seconds remaining in Game 1 of the Finals, Teng surveys the floor. He drives into the lane, slicing through the defense of Matt Nieto and Vince Tolentino and putting the La Salle crowd on its feet after converting a contested layup. After struggling throughout the game, he managed to score his 10th point of the game. His last-ditch effort allowed the Green-and-White to retake the lead over the Blue Eagles, 66-65.
Teng came to the rescue and showed his composure for La Salle once again as he managed to deny an Aaron Black jumpshot in the final 15.1 seconds of the game on the other end of the floor.
1. Sweeping the Blue Eagles for the title
Fighting off an ADMU Blue Eagle comeback in the final minutes of the game, the Green Archers were able to hold on for a 79-72 victory that won them Game 2 and the championship. It was a surreal moment for team captain Jeron Teng, who scored 28 points and was awarded the Finals MVP in his final game in the Green-and- White.
After an almost perfect season, it was only fitting that the Green Archers earned the right to callthemselves champions once again. For graduating seniors Perkins, Torres, Sargent, and Teng, the championship was the perfect way to finish their respective UAAP careers.