It was a nail-biter yet again between the DLSU Green Archers and the LPU (Lyceum of the Philippines University) Pirates in the semifinals of the FilOil Flying V Preseason Premiere Cup as La Salle was able to come away with a win to advance to the finals, 100-99. Aljun Melecio led all scorers with 30 points on 50 percent shooting while Ricci Rivero was able to contribute 27 points on 12 of 19 field goals. Meanwhile, Ben Mbala chipped in a double-double of 26 points and 16 rebounds.
It was Santi Santillan, however, who put La Salle back in the preseason finals. With 10 seconds remaining in the game, Santillan was able to convert a layup despite getting fouled and converted the bonus free throw.
LPU’s CJ Perez had another dominant performance with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists in their losing effort.
It was a strong first quarter for the Green Archers as they banked on balanced scoring and a consistent defensive effort to take a comfortable lead. Melecio started out the first period in rhythm, scoring seven points to lead La Salle over LPU in the first quarter, 23-15.
It was a different story, however, come the start of the second period. A 6-0 run propelled the Pirates to within two points at just the 8:50 mark of the quarter. LPU would continue its offensive spark as the Pirates were able to grab the lead for the first time at the 5:52 mark, 31-30.
Although Mbala would continuously get La Salle going, scoring six points in the painted area in the second quarter, La Salle simply had no answer for the Pirates’ three-point shooting, wherein they made five in the second period alone. Lyceum would end the first half with the lead, 47-45.
Melecio led the third period which went in favor of the Green Archers, scoring back-to-back jumpers followed by a layup from Santillan. Meanwhile, Perez and Marcelino converted a jumper and three pointer, respectively, for the Pirates. With 7:17 to play in the quarter, Mbala sparked a 10-0 run for La Salle, which he capped off with a layup. Melecio ignited a three-point shootout with LPU’s Wilson Baltazar and Ralph Tansingco. Jasper Ayaay managed to trim La Salle’s lead as he converted free throws although it was not enough as the third period concluded in favor of DLSU, 77-73.
Similar to the third quarter, the final period saw the Green Archers take an early lead as Melecio and R. Rivero scored off of a three-pointer and jumper, respectively. On the other hand, Perez helped keep the Pirates within distance. R. Rivero was called for an offensive foul and Perez swung momentum to LPU’s favor afterwards as he converted six points from the free throw line alone.
Harry Nzeusseu scored off a foul and made the bonus free throw to tie the game, before Caduyac gave the Pirates a two-point lead from a transition layup afterwards. With 10 seconds remaining in the game, Santillan also scored from underneath off a foul and converted the bonus free throw to give La Salle a one-point lead. The Pirates were unable to recover as La Salle sealed a 100-99 victory.
Ayo rues bad officiating
Throughout the preseason, head coach Aldin Ayo has voiced out his displeasure over the league’s officiating. “Nagtatrabaho kami buong taon tapos sila [the referees] sisirain lang nila.” (We work hard throughout the year and the officials just go in and ruin it), says Ayo. “It’s unfair for the team and for the fans watching,” he added.
Next up for the Green Archers are the San Beda Red Lions whom they will face on Sunday, June 25, at 4 pm in the FilOil Flying V Centre for the preseason title. Both teams previously faced off in the elimination round with the Red Lions taking an 82-80 win. However, Ayo remains optimistic about the upcoming match, saying that they will give their all.
“When you were nearly removed from the tournament and when you are given the chance to come back, you make sure to make the most out of it,” he concluded.
DLSU 100- Melecio 30, R. Rivero 27, Mbala 26, Santillan 9, Caracut 4, Baltazar 2, Tero 2, Go 0, Tratter 0
LPU 99- Perez 24, Baltazar 19, Tansingco 15, Ayaay 13, Nzeusseu 7, Caduyac 6, JC. Marcelino 5, Pretta 5, JV. Marcelino 4, Ibanez 1, Liwag 0, Cinco 0
Quarter Scores: 23-15, 45-47, 77-73, 100-99