The DLSU Green Archers and the UP Fighting Maroons kick-started the FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup with an exciting game but it was the Taft-based squad who emerged victorious, 82-79, earlier today at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan City.
Justine Baltazar was named player of the game after finishing with 16 points, six rebounds, and three assists.
Despite losing head coach Aldin Ayo and a number of players the past few months, the Green Archers looked calm and composed in their game against the Fighting Maroons. Newcomer Miggy Corteza quickly made his presence felt as he scored La Salle’s first four points in the game. Kib Montalbo was the second player to score for the Green-and-White after converting a three-pointer at the 7:18 mark of the first quarter.
Bright Akhuetie, who sat out UAAP Season 79 due to residency, answered back after making a field goal near the basket to give UP a two-point lead with 6:57 left in the quarter. Akhuetie scored another field goal with a hook shot towards the end of the first quarter but it was not enough to prevent La Salle from taking a 20-15 lead heading into the second quarter.
Taane Samuel, another La Salle newcomer, began the second period with a drop-step hook shot to extend DLSU’s lead to 22-15 at the 9:18 mark of the quarter. Baltazar followed it up with a lay-up but the Fighting Maroons fought back with an 8-0 run courtesy of Juan Gomez De Liaño and Gelo Vito. Baltazar converted a put-back off an Aljun Melecio miss from three-point territory to stop the UP run and give La Salle a 26-23 lead with 5:06 remaining in the second quarter.
The Green-and-White erected a seven point lead in the last 2:44 of the first half but Javi Gomez De Liaño started the comeback with a lay-up and Diego Dario scored eight unanswered points off the bench to give UP a 36-33 lead with 42 seconds left in the quarter. Santi Santillan drained a three-pointer just before the half ended to equalize the match at 36-all.
Andrei Caracut opened the scoring festivities in the second half with a pair of free throws while Santillan continued his strong play following his rookie season last year as he made another field goal to give La Salle a 40-36 lead at the 8:41 mark of the third period.
Akhuetie, Vito, Dario, and Paul Desiderio each contributed at least a point to keep the Fighting Maroons afloat in the game but Melecio, Jollo Go, and newcomer Brandon Bates ended the quarter with a 9-0 run to give La Salle a 58-52 lead heading into the final canto.
DLSU started the fourth quarter strong as Baltazar, Caracut, and Melecio combined for 10 points in the first four minutes of the final period to take a 68-57 advantage but Desiderio, who is playing in his last year with the Fighting Maroons, took charge of the comeback with two free throws to cut the deficit to nine. Ju. Gomez De Liaño continued his brilliant play as he erupted for 10 points in the fourth quarter to help Desiderio in the offensive end.
UP kept a resilient attitude as the Fighting Maroons unleashed an 8-0 run with less than 90 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to two, 78-76, but Ju. Gomez De Liaño missed a crucial three-pointer towards the end of the game as the Green-and-White held on to give the Fighting Maroons their first loss of the preseason tournament.
The Green Archers will seek back-to-back wins against Abu Tratter, Prince Rivero, Ricci Rivero, and the rest of the Gilas Pilipinas Cadet Team on Friday, April 27, 6:30 pm, at the same venue.