The DLSU Green Archers were unable to stop the winning run of archrivals ADMU Blue Eagles as they succumbed to a 71-55 defeat earlier today, at the Mall of Asia Arena. La Salle falls to a 3-3 slate while the defending champions solidify their hold at the second seed with a record of five wins and one loss.
Aljun Melecio led all scorers with 21 points as he converted two three-pointers out of five attempts. The Lasallian also collected seven rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Santi Santillan added seven points and seven rebounds off the bench for the Green-and-White.
Angelo Kouame led the Blue Eagles with a double-double as the big man scored 20 points while grabbing 13 rebounds. Fellow starters Anton Asistio and Thirdy Ravena scored 12 and nine points, respectively, as they eased the scoring burden of Kouame.
Montalbo made a shocking appearance into the game as he was supposedly out for the next few matches due to the fracture in his left thumb, “I just really want to play, that’s the bottom line. It’s my last year and I don’t want my thumb injury to determine my season.” Getting the approval of the coaching and medical staff of DLSU was hard, but he was determined to make it to today’s game, seeing that he knew that his younger teammates will need all the help they can get to this match-up against their archrivals.
After losing a heartbreaking Finals series against the Blue Eagles last year, the Green Archers started out strong as Melecio and Justine Baltazar each converted a three-pointer and a layup to give La Salle a 5-0 lead at the 7:33 mark of the first period. The Blue Eagles answered back with five quick points behind Asistio’s three-pointer and Kouame’s layup to tie the game at 5-all. Brandon Bates then made a field goal to give back the lead to the Lasallians, 7-5, with 6:18 remaining in the quarter.
The Green-and-White were held scoreless for almost four minutes as the Katipunan-based squad went on a 5-0 run to take a 12-7 lead towards the end of the period. The dry spell on the offensive end did not rattle the Green Archers as they leaned on their bench players to keep them afloat. Mark Dyke and Andrei Caracut combined for six points to give the Taft-based squad a 13-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Matt Nieto and Kouame kick-started the second canto with an alley-oop, with the former providing the assist, and the latter finishing the spectacular play with a layup. The Ateneans extended their lead to three, 16-13, after Kouame’s free throws but Melecio and former Blue Eaglet Joaqui Manuel combined for five points to wrestle back the lead for La Salle, 18-16.
With the lead back in DLSU’s hands, the Blue Eagles unleashed a huge 12-0 run–highlighted by Kouame’s one-legged fade-away–to take a 28-18 lead with 24 seconds remaining in the first half. La Salle then called a time-out after a broken play, and Melecio delivered a crucial three at the buzzer to cut the 10-point deficit to seven, 28-21, heading into halftime.
It was a difficult half for the Green Archers as they committed 16 turnovers and only made nine out of their 34 attempts from the field. Despite trailing at halftime, La Salle had the advantage in the rebounding department as the Green-and-White grabbed 30 boards compared to the Blue Eagles’ 19.
Gritty second half
The second half started similarly to the first period as both teams were all out on both the offensive and defensive ends of the field. Continuous turnovers were seen from the Lasallians and the Ateneans before Baltazar of DLSU was able to get a two-point basket after almost two whole minutes into the quarter of no team scoring. Unfortunately for the Green-and-White, with Isaac Go’s offensive rebounds and checking into their 21st turnover at just the half of the third quarter, the Green Archers were trailing the Blue Eagles by 10 points, 35-25.
The Lasallians did not easily give up, however, as Montalbo and Melecio made use of the errors of their counterpart. At the seventh minute of the first quarter, both teams were scrambling on the floor to get a wild ball, and despite his injury, Montalbo was able to fight three ADMU players to pass the ball to Melecio. In spite of this however, the third quarter ended with a three-point shot from Tyler Tio, and the biggest lead of the game at 17 with Ateneo on top.
The latter part of the second period began with a good momentum coming from the Green Archers. Forcing continuous turnovers, the Lasallians were able to place the Blue Eagles into the penalties early on. DLSU, most especially Melecio and Encho Serrano, capitalized this situation as they were both placed into the charity stripe three times in the fourth quarter. Despite this, the Blue Eagles were able to keep the gap wide between the two teams, leaving Ravena and Raffy Verano open at the three-point line,
The Green Archers scored 22 points compared to the Blue Eagles’ 21 points in the fourth quarter, but this did not help them get back to ADMU as they lost to their archrivals with a 16-point difference, 71-55. La Salle dropped to fourth in the standings with a 3-3 win-loss record and pushed ADMU into the second place with a 5-1 win-loss record.
Coach Louie Gonzales of DLSU handed it to Ateneo, stating that they were forced to play a kind of basketball a young team like La Salle is not yet accustomed to. Nonetheless, he is determined not to let the game get into their heads, seeing that they want to end the first round eliminations with a win, “Come Saturday, it’s a must win game for us. Para mas mag–improve sa standings and we have to finish the first round at least dun sa upper half nung standings.”
The Taft-based squad will be looking for that win as they take on the unbeaten AdU Soaring Falcons on October 13, Saturday, 4pm, at the same venue.
DLSU 55 – Melecio 21, Santillan 7, Dyke 6, Baltazar 4, Montalbo 4, Caracut 4, Bates 3, Serrano 3, Manuel 3, Go 0.
ADMU 71 – Kouame 20, Asistio 12, Ravena 9, Verano 8, Navarro 6, Go 6, Tio 5, Nieto M. 3, Nieto J. 2, Wong 0, Mamuyac 0, Belangel 0, Mendoza 0.
Quarter scores: 13-12, 21-28, 33-50, 55-71.