The DLSU Green Archers were able to bounce back from their first round defeat by finding a win after a tight match against the UE Red Warriors, 65-59, earlier today at the Mall of Asia Arena. With the victory, the team from Taft now holds a 5-5 win-loss record, while the team from Sampaloc drops to 3-8.
Justine Baltazar took charge for the Green-and-White, scoring a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Jamie Malonzo and Encho Serrano also hit double digits, with both scoring 12 points.
In the losing effort, Rey Suerte led his team with 17 points and four rebounds. Team captain Philip Manalang helped his squad by contributing 14 points and six rebounds. Alex Diakhite, on the other hand, recorded a double-double with 11 points and 20 rebounds.
“It was tough for us after that Ateneo game, we only had two days to prepare,” head coach Gian Nazario shared after the close-contested matchup. “Suwerte kami we were able to pull through. We really needed this win.” (We were lucky enough that we were able to pull through.)
Loss of offense
The Green Archers drew first blood as Baltazar scored a layup at 9:42 in the first period. A three-pointer from Jonathan Mendoza gave the Red Warriors the early lead, which was taken back by Baltazar’s field goal off an Andrei Caracut assist at the 7:52 mark. Suerte responded by starting a mini 5-0 run to bring the momentum to the side of UE.
At the 4:42 mark, the Taft-based squad made a mini-run of their own, highlighted by Caracut scoring a floater and giving La Salle a two-point lead, 12-10. The defensive efforts of the two teams prevented each other from running their offense. With 0.2 seconds left in the first frame, Baltazar scored a layup, which gave the team from Taft a one-point lead by the end of the first quarter, 14-13.
Looking to pull away in the second quarter, Melecio converted a floater at 8:42. The Green Archers struggled with their offense in the first half of the second quarter; the momentum shifted to the Red Warriors’ side when Diakhite scored from the paint with 7:12 remaining in the period. The Sampaloc-based squad pulled away with a score of 24-16.
Brandon Bates ended the bleeding for the Green-and-White when he scored a floater and was fouled by Chris Conner at the 3:30 mark to give him a plus-one free throw. It was a back-and-forth affair for both teams, but Joaqui Manuel managed to cut the deficit at the end of the first half, 28-26, when he shot a three-pointer from the right wing with only 37 seconds left in the period.
A tight finish
Malonzo made sure that the Taft-based squad started the second half on a high note as he took charge early in the third quarter, scoring a layup and a dunk to take back the lead for the Green-and-White, 30-28. Jed Mendoza stopped the momentum of the Green Archers at the 8:19 mark when he scored a layup from the left wing, sparking a 4-0 run that gave the lead back to the Red-and-White.
Just like in the first quarter, both teams continued to score for their respective teams. With 3:12 minutes left in the third period, Malonzo brought back the lead to the Green Archers, 40-37, as he scored a three-pointer. The team from Sampaloc wanted to shift the momentum back to their side with 0.06 seconds left in the third quarter when Manalang converted a floater, 46-42.
The Green-and-White still trailed during the first half of the fourth quarter. At the 5:50 mark, Baltazar stopped the bleeding for his side by converting a floater. The Lasallians then pulled away with a seven-point run to push the score to 57-52.
Suerte cut DLSU’s lead to two when he shot a free throw off a foul from Bates and a layup with 2:37 minutes left in the final quarter. Meanwhile, Serrano continued to score from the paint to widen the Archers’ lead to four, 63-59. With 14.2 seconds left on the clock, a foul by Manalang gave Malonzo an easy two points to seal the game, 65-59.
After the match, Nazario mentioned how the squad managed to pull out the victorious performance despite having seven players suffering from the flu. “Our mindset didn’t change naman. It was just our approach in practice because we only had five [healthy] players on the court.”
“‘Di ako pwedeng ‘di maglaro, kailangan ako sa court kaya nagpapasalamat ako kay God na pinagaling niya ako and natulungan ko ang teammates ko,” top scorer Baltazar expressed after playing 37 minutes on the court, more than any other player, despite feeling under the weather.
(I can’t afford to not play because I’m needed inside the court. I’m thankful for God that he made me feel better, and I was able to help my teammates.)
Consultant Jermaine Bryd emphasized the importance of this game for La Salle’s bid to reach the Final Four. “Every game for us is a playoff game.”
The DLSU Green Archers look to continue their winning ways as they face the FEU Tamaraws on Saturday, 4 pm, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
DLSU 65 – Baltazar 23, Malonzo 12, Serrano 12, Bates 9, Melecio 4, Manuel 3, Caracut 2
UE 59 – Suerte 17, Manalang 14, Diakhite 11, Conner 9, Mendoza 7, Apacible 1
Quarter scores: 14-13, 26-28, 42-46, 65-59