Archers split last four games, salvage fourth slot

The DLSU Green Archers’ 4-3 win-loss record was again duplicated in the second round as they pulled off victories against the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws and the University Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers, before suffering back-to-back losses against the spirited University of the East (UE) Red Warriors and the Adamson Falcons, ending their elimination campaign toting an 8-6 record.

Dropping to the fourth spot

The Archers came into their game against the Adamson Falcons as the league leader in terms of fastbreak points.

The San Marcelino-based squad was heedless of that statistic as they held DLSU to zero fastbreak points and instead banked on their scorching three-point shooting. The Falcons relied on their defense to quell a spirited Archer comeback and handed them the victory, 69-64, Sept. 10 at the Araneta Coliseum.

The victory by the Falcons assured them of the third spot in the Final Four and relegated the Archers to the fourth spot. Both teams, however, bear the herculean task of overcoming twice-to-beat advantages of their Final Four opponents: the Ateneo Blue Eagles and FEU Tamaraws.

The Archers, who fell behind by as much as 14 during the third canto, stormed back in the fourth to trim the Adamson lead to three, 62-59, after a triple shot by rookie Luigi Dela Paz.

Austin Manyara of the Falcons hauled the 15th of his game-high 17 rebounds and muscled his way inside to give his team a five-point lead. A basket by Archer Jovet Mendoza once more trimmed the lead to three, but Manyara plucked the last of his rebounds and fished a foul from the Archers. His free throws iced the game for the Falcons.

Vosotros led the Taft-based quintet with 13 points, including a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. He also dished four assists and pulled down three boards. Joseph Marata had 11 and was instrumental in the fourth quarter run but had a 4-for-12 shooting from the field.

Dela Paz netted nine markers while Mendoza finished with eight and seven rebounds. The reedy Yutien Andrada likewise had a strong showing as he had 10 boards, seven points, and five blocks.

After a first half which saw four deadlocks and three leadchanges, the Falcons broke away from the tight game anchored by a 24-point third quarter behind the efforts of Jerick Canada, Allen Etrone and Alex Nuyles. Their precarious three-point lead ballooned to fourteen, 57-43, at the start of the fourth quarter.

A blistering 14-4 start by the Archers was slowly erased by the Falcons. The efforts of guard Lester Alvarez, who along with Manyara finished with 11 points, allowed the wards of Leo Austria to climb from the deficit.

Roider Cabrera took the scoring cudgels from Alvarez as the Falcons wrested the lead from the Archers, 33-30, at the turn.

The Falcons remained the only team that the Archers have not beaten this season, but they could have their chance if the two squads meet in the finals if ever they dispatch their respective opponents.

Upended by the Warriors

As the cage wars approach its last leg, the final games prove how unpredictable the battles keep on getting. And it was proven, Sept. 4, when the Green Archers fell to the UE Red Warriors, 80-74. The Archers failed to fend off the Warriors, one of the supposed owners of the coveted Final Four slots.

During the first few minutes of the game, UE grabbed the lead, but the Archers were eventually able to bounce back, ending the first quarter with a five-point advantage, 25-20. This was enabled by accurate shooting from the two-point field, and good performances from Papot Paredes and Spider Webb.

It was during the second quarter that the Warriors were beginning to make up for lost points and lost time. They ended up scoring 20 points during the quarter alone, as well as force seven turnovers on the Taft-based squad due to their solid defense.  The third quarter was not very different, where the Taft-based squad committed six more turnovers. Still, the canto ended with both teams tied at 56 points.

It was the final quarter of the game, and the Red Warriors managed to score 24 points, including seven out of eight free throws.  On top of all of these, the Red-and-White team also displayed impressive defense, stealing the ball three times from the Archers.  Compounding the woes of the Green-and-White squad was their free throw shooting wherein out of seven tries, only one was made, not to mention the five turnovers that were committed.

Things seemed to look up when sophomore, Joseph Marata made a three-pointer, cutting the lead to only three points, 74-77. However, due to the lack of time, the Archers began committing desperate fouls on the Warriors, which eventually lead to UE scoring their final points which were also free throws, which pegged the count at 74-77.

Superior over the Tigers’ growl

The Boys from Taft are back.

After a one-year absence, the Green Archers secured a spot in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 73 by defeating the UST Growling Tigers, 78-69, Sept. 2 at the Araneta Coliseum.

The young team started out aggressive right from the opening tip. The full court press of the Taft-based squad gave the UST players a hard time bringing down the ball, which was led by the great defensive pressure of Joel Tolentino and team captain Simon Atkins.

The first quarter remained close as the Archers stayed aggressive, with Papot Paredes making his presence known on the defensive end, which ignited another run for DLSU. In the dying seconds of the quarter, the Archers were able to cut down the Tiger’s lead to one point with Jovet Mendoza’s free throws, with the count ending at 18-17.

The second quarter started out slow as the first shot by Maui Villanueva was made three minutes into the quarter. DLSU then took the lead and sped past the España-based quintet to create six more points that would give them the upper hand in the game.

Their adjusted play kept UST at bay, limiting the Tigers’ output to only nine points, while raking in over twice as much, ending the first half with a 36-27 lead.

Atkins led the comeback as he scored, assisted and intercepted the ball to gain back the momentum in the third canto. Veteran big man Ferdinand also had a good game, contributing five crucial points in the third quarter to help bring up the lead to 53-46.

During the final quarter, David Webb moved well without the ball and scored four quick points, and Atkins also scored a big three causing the Tigers to call for a timeout. The Tigers made two points right off the timeout but Webb remained fearless, scoring another basket.

It continued out to be a see-saw battle but the Archers prevailed victorious as big men Villanueva and Mendoza helped make the lead bigger and secured the victory for the Archers; thus, eliminated the Pido Jarencio-mentored cagers from Final Four contention. Webb—who has since then asked to be called by his other name: “Spider”—for his prominent presence as a point-maker and Atkins both scored 14 points.

The teams played hard all throughout the game and no one was ready to give up easily even though at the start, the Archers came out a little rigid because of the pressure.

Coach Dindo Pumaren had to remind them to “relax and play [their] usual game.” Pumaren elaborated that “It’s hard to play against a team with no bearings,” as UST had been fighting for survival during the game to keep their flickering Final Four hopes alive.

Now that the team has reached their goal of getting in the Final Four, Pumaren has a bigger motivation saying, “All this time we’ve been preparing for the Final Four; and now we have to prepare [for the finals].”

Taming the Tamaraws

No one knows how to make a great comeback better than the Green Archers, as they emphatically brought down the number one team in the standings, the FEU Tamaraws, 80-66. The Taft-based squad never let their opponent regain footing after taking back the lead during the fourth quarter.

The team showed that they were not a team to be crossed out of the Final Four race as they gave the Tamaraws only their second loss of the season. Not even an injury sustained by team Captain Simon Atkins could keep him from playing the game and scoring 19 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing two assists last Aug. 28 at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Archers struck first with Papot Paredes getting two points 17 seconds into the game. The team had led by as much as four points when Tamaraw RR Garcia let out a three-pointer that cut down the lead.

From there, due to foul trouble on the Archers’ part and a rally led by Garcia, FEU was able to take the lead and leave the Archers behind by as much as seven points, 15-12.

In the second quarter, guards Luigi Dela Paz, Joel Tolentino and Oda Tampus seized the lead early in the period, assisted by a three-point shot by Atkins. The Tamaraws, struggling to regain the lead, increased their fast-paced plays.

Atkins was advised by Coach Dindo Pumaren to put pressure on Garcia, resulting in a collision between the prolific guard and the Archer in an attempt to a maintain possession of an intercepted ball.

Garcia’s head bumping into Atkins’ brow alarmed the Lasallian crowd as they worried if the injury would incapacitate the Archer for the rest of the game or worse, the rest of the season.  With their captain out of commission, the Archers were still able to limit the Morayta-based squad five to a 17-point output to which they tied, through the efforts of Dela Paz and Mendoza.

The second half looked promising as the Archers charged head-first, coming into the period with the first points made. Atkins returned and contributed to the point-making, nailing down both his free-throws and two-point shots. Aldrech Ramos kept the Tamaraws afloat with his efforts but with the fearless field goals of Dela Paz and Tampus, La Salle closed the quarter down only by three, 57-54.

In the fourth quarter, the Archers got the lead with another Tampus shot and from there the Tamaraws trailed DLSU until the end of the game where a three-pointer by Atkins and six of their game-high 20 free throws left the Tamaraws 14 points behind. The Archers were able to limit FEU to a nine-point output in stark contrast to the team’s 26 points.

Because of the previous loss they experienced at the hands of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, the team was even more motivated to bounce back. “They told us that we didn’t play with heart…masakit ‘yon for us [it hurts for us],” explained Atkins. “We wanted to prove them wrong.”

Imman Canicosa

By Imman Canicosa

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