Sports Sports Feature

UAAP: Green Archers bow out of playoff contention with loss to Fighting Maroons, 71-68

In a must-win game for the DLSU Green Archers, the UP Fighting Maroons emerged victorious in dramatic fashion, 71-68, eliminating the Green-and-White from playoff contention. With the win, the UP squad solidifies their second-place spot in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 82 basketball tournament.

Seizing the win, Bright Akhuetie proved his dominance on both sides of the court, as he recorded 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Maroons. Additionally, Ricci Rivero and Jun Manzo played key roles in the game, contributing 12 and 11 points, respectively, with Manzo also recording a game-high eight assists. 

In the losing effort, Jamie Malonzo had 17 points to his name, along with a game-high 11 rebounds. Aljun Melecio and Justine Baltazar were the only other La Salle players to hit double digits, as they recorded 12 and 10 points, respectively. 

A half of runs

The Fighting Maroons came into the game hoping to solidify a significant lead early on, as Jun Manzo opened the scoring in the first quarter with a floater at the 9:18 mark. The UP squad then proceeded to outperform La Salle continuously, as the Archers struggled to sink their shots despite multiple attempts at the basket. With DLSU’s lapses in their defensive plays, UP was allowed to go on a whopping 17-3 run, with the only points of the Green-and-White coming from free throw shots by Malonzo and Brandon Bates at the 7:06 and 4:47 marks, respectively.

With three minutes left in the first quarter, the team from Taft finally found their first field goal of the game, as Encho Serrano converted a jumper to end the drought. The rest of the period went on in back-and-forth fashion. Jordan Bartlett capped off the first quarter making two shots from the free-throw line, to end with a score of 21-11 in favor of the Fighting Maroons.  

The UP squad continued to dominate the game, as they opened the second quarter with a 6-0 run. However, desperate to take control of the game, DLSU finally caught the fire they had been looking for as Bates converted a shot off an offensive rebound at the 7:18 mark in an attempt to stop the team’s bleeding. This led to a much needed 21-0 run, with the Archers taking turns sinking their shots to dramatically cut down the Fighting Maroons’ lead.

Malonzo tied the game at the 3:29 mark, as he converted a three-point shot from the corner. This was followed by an open layup by Bates to give DLSU their first lead of the game, 29-27. Melecio then proceeded to sink a three-pointer to stretch their lead to five points—a good sign for the Archers. However, Akhuetie found life for the UP squad with 54 seconds left in the first half, as he completed a three-point play. This led to an 8-2 run for the Fighting Maroons, capped off by Manzo sinking a clutch three-pointer with three seconds left in the second period to reclaim the lead, 35-34. 

Second half heartbreak

After bouncing back in the previous quarter, the Green Archers looked to complete the comeback in the second half, but similar to the first period, they came out struggling on offense. Webb opened the scoring in the half off a pass from Rivero at the 8:57 mark. This started a 7-0 run for the Fighting Maroons and extended their lead, 42-34. 

Joaqui Manuel finally opened his team’s account in the third quarter as he hit one of two free throws with 7:27 remaining. Despite Manuel’s free throw, the Green-and-White still could not find a way to score from the field. It was not until Malonzo pulled up from the corner and sunk the three-point shot, after over three minutes of play in the third frame, that the Taft-based squad scored from open play. They trailed UP by six at that point, 44-38. 

The teams traded runs for the remainder of the period as the scoring came in spurts. Malonzo came up with a personal 5-0 run with another shot from beyond the arc off a Serrano assist coupled with a basket off his own steal, but his team still trailed, 48-44. The Green Archers looked ready to take control of the match, but another run by the Fighting Maroons extended the gap once again. Manzo placed emphasis on the team’s 7-1 run with a three-pointer from the corner, as DLSU trailed, 55-45, to end the third quarter. 

Poor shot selection and failure to take care of the ball undid the great second quarter for the Lasallians, but there was still hope heading into the final 10 minutes of the game. Rivero forced his former team to swallow the bitter pill as he opened the final period with a massive shot from deep to extend his team’s lead to 13 points, 58-45, but playing with their playoff hopes on the line, the Green-and-White had nothing to lose as they put it all out on the court.

The Green Archers continued the fight-back with a 6-0 run with 7:47 left in the game, placing them within striking distance as they trailed, 58-51. A powerful throwdown from Rivero momentarily stifled their momentum, yet DLSU still would not back down. They put together another 6-0 run, capped off by a Melecio pull-up shot from three-point range, which set up a grandstand finish with 4:37 left to save their season, 60-57. A Serrano shot plus a foul sent the Lasllalian crowd into a frenzy as the Fighting Maroons’ lead was down to one point, 62-61. 

The breakthrough finally came for the team in White after Melecio hit three free throws after being fouled by Paras from beyond the line. With 3:19 remaining in the game, the team lead UP for the first time, 64-62. 

With spectators on the edge of their seats, both sides came up with clutch plays. Serrano scored a basket once again to keep his squad ahead, 68-66, but a big-time drive by Akhuetie and a huge dunk by Paras retook the lead for UP with 54 seconds left to play, 70-68. 

With less than a minute remaining to save their season, DLSU hoped for one last twist to the tale. With 20 seconds left on the clock, the opportunity came as the Green-and-White broke down the court with a fastbreak, but they were unable to convert. 

Akhuetie pulled down the board and the free throw game started. With four fouls to give, the clock ticked down agonizingly for the Green Archers, as they had to foul multiple times. With two seconds to go, Manzo was sent to the line, where he went one-for-two to extend his team’s lead to three, 71-68, but because he missed the second free throw attempt, the Lasallians were able to rebound. They threw the ball up the court but were unable to get off a shot before the buzzer, keeping the scoreline at 71-68 in favor of UP.

The horn sounded and the Green-and-White were relegated to watching the playoffs from the sideline for the second straight season.

The Green Archers will face the Adamson Soaring Falcons in their final game of the season on Wednesday, October 30 at the Mall of Asia Arena to try to close their season on a high note.

The scores: 

DLSU 68 – Malonzo 17, Melecio 12, Baltazar 10, Bates 8, Serrano 8, Manuel 4, Lojera 4, Bartlett 3, Hill 2

UP 71 – Akhuetie 17, Rivero 12, Manzo 11, Paras 10, Ja. Gomez de Liaño 8, Webb 6, Ju. Gomez de Liaño 3, Tungcab 2, Prado 2
Quarter scores: 11-21, 34-35, 45-55, 68-71

Annika Cañiza

By Annika Cañiza

Nico Meer

By Nico Meer

Leave a Reply