It was a tight match between the DLSU Green Archers and the UE Red Warriors as both teams fought hard until the dying seconds of the game, with La Salle edging out UE in the end, 77-71. Justine Baltazar led La Salle in scoring with 15 points and three blocks. Meanwhile Santi Santillan recorded a double-double with 12 points to go along with his 14 rebounds.
On the other hand, Aljun Melecio recorded 14 points on four made three-pointers, one of which sealed the game at the 1:25 mark.
Meanwhile, UE’s Alvin Pasaol was the main thorn in the Green Archers’ side, as he put up a game-high 30 points and nine rebounds. The Red Warriors, however, received their fifth loss in seven games.
It was a dismal start on both ends of the court for the Green Archers. Play after play, La Salle would have a difficult time finding its rhythm as the suffocating defense of the Derek Pumaren-led Warriors forced a number of difficult shots and turnovers for the Green-and-White, ending the quarter, 20-11, in favor of UE.
It was a complete turn around, however, come the start of the second quarter as six Green Archers were able to contribute in scoring, with big men Santi Santillan and Justin Baltazar leading the way with nine and six points, respectively. La Salle’s defense amped up as well, as it was the Red Warriors this time who were limited to just 11 points in the quarter. The Green Archers, meanwhile, had 22 points to grab the lead at the end of the first half, 33-31.
Pasaol quickly tied the score at 33-all as he knocked down a floater 20 seconds into the third quarter. He followed it up with a turnaround fadeaway shot a minute later to give UE its first lead of the half. The Lasallians countered with Ben Mbala and Melecio leading the way. Mbala made four free throws while the former DLSZ standout rattled in a three-pointer from the right elbow to give La Salle the lead at 40-35.
Both teams exchanged leads throughout the third quarter with different players contributing at the offensive end. Andrei Caracut made one of two free throws with 4.5 seconds remaining in the third to give the Green Archers a 55-53 lead, but UE’s Mark Olayon beat the buzzer to tie the game at 55-55.
The Green Archers unleashed a 6-0 run to start the quarter strong with Ricci Rivero, Abu Tratter, and Baltazar each making field goals from under the basket. Pumaren quickly called a timeout to stop the run and it worked wonders for UE. Pasaol converted two straight three-pointers to tie the game at 61, but Baltazar made a reverse layup to regain the lead for La Salle. Pasaol continued his fine form as he scored five of his team’s last 10 points of the game but still came up short. Melecio made a go-ahead three-pointer at the 1:25 mark of the quarter to seal the win for La Salle after Caracut tied the game at 71-all.
DLSU will next face its archrivals, the ADMU Blue Eagles, on June 11, at 5 pm in the same venue. “Maganda yun. Crucial din yung laro na yun para sa amin. Wala pa namang assured sa quarterfinals. Come Sunday, we’re expecting a hard fought game,” head coach Aldin Ayo concluded.
DLSU 77 – Baltazar 15, Melecio 14, R. Rivero 13, Santillan 12, Mbala 9, Caracut 6, Tero 4, Tratter 4, Gonzales 0, Go 0
UE 71 – Pasaol 30, Olayon 13, Acuno 6, Maloles 5, Magbuhos 4, Conner 4, Manalang 2, Derige 2, Varilla 2, Cullar 1, Bartolome 0, Abante 0
11-20, 33-31, 55-55, 77-71