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UAAP: Green Archers grind out win against Growling Tigers, 80-79

The DLSU Green Archers dug deep to overcome the UST Growling Tigers in a back-and-forth affair, 80-79, earlier today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. With the win, the Green-and-White improves their bid for a Final Four berth, now sporting a 6-6 win-loss record.

Green Archer Jamie Malonzo led all players in scoring as he posted 23 points, shooting at 75 percent from beyond the arc. Aljun Melecio and Justine Baltazar followed with 18 and 14 markers, respectively. Brandon Bates also stood out as he recorded 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Active consultant Jermaine Byrd commended Bates’ performance as he stepped up for his team all throughout the game despite recovering from a sickness, “He just got out of the hospital, and he didn’t practice for I think two days…Again, he gets my game ball because he does it with effort. He just locked down, he competed, and he does what he always does.”

In the losing effort, the duo of Rhenz Abando and Soulemane Chabiyo led their team as they chipped in 19 and 17 points, respectively. However, they ultimately came up short as they were unable to outlast the second half rally of the Lasallians.

Helter-skelter first half

The game was off to a slow start as both teams were having difficulty finding the bottom of the net until the 8:58 mark when Malonzo scored the game’s first field goal off a dunk. The team from Taft then went on an 8-4 run, which was capped by a tough jumper from the corner by Melecio to put his team up by six, 10-4.

The Growling Tigers, however, were eager to avenge their first round defeat to the Green Archers as they found their groove offensively. After Cj Cansino’s layup at the 6:17 mark, the España-based squad unleashed an 14-4 run on a combined team effort to secure a four-point lead, 18-14, with 3:31 remaining in the opening period. As both teams continued to trade baskets, the quarter ended with UST holding a five-point advantage over DLSU, 24-19.

At the start of the second quarter, the Growling Tigers played physically, as three Archers were sent to the line. However, they were unable to cash in from the charity stripe as they only made two of their six attempts. Malonzo opened the account for the Taft-based squad, converting a three-pointer at the 8:03 mark to tie the game at 24-all. 

Much like the first quarter, the Growling Tigers continued to fight back. After Ira Bataller’s layup to take the lead, 26-25, the Black-and-Gold seemed to be in control of the game’s pace as they kept the lead throughout the quarter. Both squads continued to rack up points as the half came to a close with the team from España holding a seven-point lead, 44-37, after Brent Paraiso’s three-pointer.

During the first half, La Salle was haunted yet again by poor free throw shooting as they were only able to convert seven out of 17 attempts from the stripe. Additionally, the UST defense held star bigman Baltazar to only one made field goal.

The chase and the escape

Not wanting to be left behind by their opponents, the Green Archers outperformed the Tigers in the third period, 24-10, starting with a Malonzo three-pointer at the 9:10 mark that sparked a 12-4 run for La Salle during the first half of the quarter. 

In an and-one play with 8:26 to go in the period, Melecio executed a double crossover and found space to pull up for a bucket, 46-43. The veteran guard later found Joaqui Manuel underneath the rim, enabling the Taft-based squad to finally take the lead from UST, 49-48, with 6:07 remaining in the period.

As the squad from España wrestled to grab advantage off a Chabiyo floater and Mark Nonoy’s converted free throws, the Green-and-White responded with seven consecutive points to bring the scoreline to 56-52 in their favor by the 2:35 mark. This mini run was highlighted by a Melecio end-to-end play, coming up with a steal then laying the ball in for a composed finish at the other side of the court.

In the final minute of the third frame, Baltazar’s top-of-the-arc three followed by Malonzo’s steal and dunk gave the Lasallians what was at that time their largest lead of the game, 63-54. Sherwin Concepcion pulled one back for the Growling Tigers, converting a three-pointer with five seconds left in the period and trimming DLSU’s advantage to six points, 63-57, heading into the final frame of play.

The fourth period proved to be a neck-and-neck race to the finish line as neither side was willing to back down from fighting for a much-needed victory toward the end of the regular season of UAAP.

Initially, the Green-and-White looked to be building off their momentum from the previous quarter, generating a 12-point lead at the 7:14 mark as Malonzo was at the right place at the right time to put the ball through the hoop after Andrei Caracut missed his layup.

With 4:47 remaining in the game, UST was grappling for a comeback and trying to put together a late run, scoring five straight points as Subido went three-for-three from the charity line. But the Taft-based squad found a way to keep their advantage—no matter how small the gap was becoming—with Melecio finding Baltazar and then Bates in two successive possessions, 80-71, with 2:27 left to play.

Carrying what should have been a comfortable cushion for the Archers, Melecio’s diving steal during the final minute of play burned some extra time on the clock, but the Growling Tigers proved relentless: they whittled away at the La Salle advantage courtesy of Abando sinking two consecutive three-point shots, 80-77, with 10.9 seconds to go.

In that moment, the DLSU faithful were brought to the edge of their seat, not wanting to witness another heart-sinking loss, and most especially not in the manner of giving up the advantage only in the final seconds of the ball game. Possession for the Green Archers—skipper Caracut found himself being double teamed by the UST defense at the edge of the court’s sidelines, and upon lobbing the ball over his shoulder, the pass connected with no one from his side. Instead, Growling Tiger Abando snatched the ball away and positioned himself at the tip of the arc, sending the ball flying through the net.

The Green-and-White nearly had another game taken away from them, but not for this matchup. Abando, after knocking down the two previous three-pointers that brought the España-based squad within striking distance, had stepped on the line in that last UST possession, making a long-range two-point shot rather than a three-point credit.

La Salle made no mistake protecting the ball—and the lead—for the final 1.3 seconds of the game, coming away with the victory, 80-79, and seizing a chance to keep fighting for a spot in the Final Four. 

Byrd later reflected on the game, “Just got filled with a lot of emotion. It was a hard-fought win—that’s really all I could say. I’m proud of my guys; I’m proud they stuck together…We have two more games, and we are [going to] compete.”

Head coach Gian Nazario also credited the players for “showing urgency” as he reiterated that, “We understand the task at hand.”

The Green Archers’ next challenge comes in the form of the UP Fighting Maroons on Sunday, October 27, at 4 pm at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The scores:

DLSU 80 – Malonzo 23, Melecio 18, Baltazar 14, Bates 10, Hill 5, Manuel 5, Caracut 2, Serrano 2, Bartlett 1

UST 79 – Abando 19, Chabiyo 17, Cansino 9, Bataller 6, Subido 6, Paraiso 5, Huang 4, Nonoy 4, Ando 3, Concepcion 3, Cuajao 3
Quarter scores: 19-24, 37-44, 63-57, 80-79

*With reports from Arden Bacallan

Alfonso Reyes

By Alfonso Reyes

Erinne Ong

By Erinne Ong

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