In their second meeting of the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Basketball tournament, the DLSU Green Archers improved to a 6-2 win-loss record after edging the FEU Tamaraws, 75-73, earlier today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ricci Rivero led the way in scoring for DLSU, for the second straight game, finishing with 20 points and five steals. Ben Mbala recorded a double-double, 18 points and 17 rebounds, while Jollo Go had 14 big points off the bench for La Salle. On the other side, Kenneth Tuffin and Hubert Cani paced FEU with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Hectic first half
The duo of Hubert Cani and Jasper Parker opened the first period on a good note for the Tamaraws, as they scored the first four points with back-to-back layups. Both FEU and DLSU proved the resilience of their defensive systems as both teams were unable to convert baskets for around two minutes. Despite the slow start for the Green Archers, the team from Taft capped off a 10-0 run with a deep three-point jumper from R. Rivero. With 1:50 remaining in the first period, Tuffin converted a jumper while Ebona hit a layup. The opening quarter ended with La Salle leading by a close margin, 18-13.
In the succeeding quarter, both teams looked to outrun each other and capitalize on their opportunities. Go ignited another 10-0 run in favor of the Green Archers, as R. Rivero scored back-to-back thunderous dunks, and then a layup that capped off the run. Subsequently, the Tamaraws replied with their own 6-0 run, as Cani and Dennison converted successful baskets. FEU stayed close through the efforts of Ebona, who concluded the first half with back-to-back layups. However, DLSU ultimately came out on top with a gritty second quarter performance on both ends of the court, holding on to a four-point lead, 39-35.
Back-and-forth second half
DLSU immediately went on a 9-0 run to extend the lead back to 13, 48-35. In the outburst, La Salle played tight defense and its scoring was highlighted by an Mbala three-pointer at the 8:43 mark of the period. FEU, though, went on a run of its own, 7-2, in which Parker and Cani were able to force Green Archer turnovers and hit layups on the other end.
At around the 3:30 mark of the third quarter, both teams began showcasing their superior outside shooting, with Caracut, Cani, and Go hitting three consecutive three-pointers at one point. Go would then hit his third three-pointer of the game, with 1:49 left in the third period, to extend the DLSU lead back to double digits, 60-49.
The Tamaraws, however, would go on a quick run in the final minute of the quarter, in which Kenneth Tuffin scored five straight points for the team in yellow. The Green-and-White, though, still led at the end of three quarters, 62-56.
FEU continued to cut into the DLSU lead, fueled by a 12-2 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters. Axel Inigo hit a three-pointer, with 7:40 left in the game, to cut the La Salle lead to just one, 62-61. The Green Archers, though, would continue fight, not allowing the Tamaraws to get over the hump.
After Mbala found Santi Santillan for a basket and a foul, Go went on a personal 5-0 scoring run to extend the DLSU lead to seven, 72-65. Even with this, FEU continued to fight. At the 1:20 mark of the final quarter, Parker found Cani in the corner for a three-pointer, which cut the lead to just three. Attempting to ice the game at the line, R. Rivero missed two crucial free throws with just 12 seconds left in the game. In the next possession, Prince Orizu slammed home a dunk to cut the deficit to just one. R. Rivero would have another chance at the line but split his attempts. In their final possession, the Tamaraws tried getting the ball inside but it was intercepted by Caracut to seal the win for DLSU, 75-73.
DLSU did a good job of taking care of the ball and forcing FEU turnovers in the first half, but struggled to do the same in the second half. In the end, both teams ended up converting 23 points off their opponents turnovers. Notably, the Green Archers who are a strong rebounding unit, were dominated on the boards by the Tamaraws, 49-38.
After the game, assistant coach Miguel Solitaria emphasized the confidence the team gained as each player is now more than ever able to place their trust in the team and in the system. “Maganda doon sa nangyari, lalo na si Ricci, he was able to do the output na gusto niya, yung 20 points niya, within the system niya ginawa.” Solitaria also mentioned Go’s ultimate goal to contribute three-pointers for the Green Archers, “The opposing team would focus on Ben Mbala and he was there to work for the threes, and we really needed that for the game.”
(What’s nice about what happened, especially for Ricci, is that he was able to do the output that he aimed to do, his 20 points, he executed those points within the system.)
Furthermore, in preparation for the next game against the UP Fighting Maroons, R. Rivero explained that putting the statistics aside, the true outcome is measured as they play as a team while sticking to the system. “For sure may magandang outcome, and yung sabi ni coach, also the process, mag-prepare na kami for the next game against UP and sana tuloy-tuloy ang outcome as a team.”
(For sure the outcome is good, coach said, also the process, we should prepare for the next game against UP, I hope our outcome as team only continues on.)
The Green Archers will resume action on October 15, 4 pm, as they will face the UP Fighting Maroons at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
DLSU 75- R. Rivero 20, Mbala 18, Go 14, P. Rivero 8, Caracut 7, Santillan 3, Tratter 3, Montalbo 2, Paraiso 0, Gonzales 0
FEU 73- Tuffin 14, Cani 13, Dennison 10, Parker 9, Ebona 8, Escoto 8, Orizu 7, Inigo 3, Ramirez 2, Stockton 0, Trinidad 0, Comboy 0
18-13, 39-35, 62-56, 75-73