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UAAP: Consistent defense, hot shooting drive Green Archers’ win against Tamaraws

After a dominant second-half run, the DLSU Green Archers snatched another win at the cost of the FEU Tamaraws, 75-65, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena earlier today, March 31.

Veteran Justine Baltazar led his team to victory, as he dominated the game with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and two steals. Also contributing were Mark Nonoy and Kurt Lojera, who snatched double-digits, posting 17 points and 10 points, respectively.

Despite FEU’s loss, LJ Gonzales garnered an impressive 17 points, four rebounds, and three assists to try to keep his team alive throughout the game. Emmanuel Ojuola also delivered 13 points and 12 rebounds, controlling the paint against La Salle’s talented bigs.

Back-and-forth

In their third match of the season, the Green Archers started off with Nelle, Winston, Austria, Baltazar, and Nwankwo, who displayed intense defense in the first few minutes. Baltazar opened DLSU’s scoring at the 9:49 mark with a layup from Nelle’s assist, 2-0.

The Tamaraws struggled with their offense early on, failing to gather a scoring rhythm as they trailed the Green-and-White five minutes into the game, 8-1. But Ojoula adjusted to DLSU’s mini-run by converting his free throws to tie up the match, 8-all.

After a flurry of exchanges, FEU adjusted to DLSU’s backcourt defense and grabbed their first lead of the game, 12-16, at the 1:40 mark. Despite trailing, Nonoy drained a crucial three-pointer with 1:24 left to close the gap in the first quarter. The Taft-based squad then ended the opening quarter with a momentous buzzer-beater by Lojera, 19-18.

After the huddle, DLSU adjusted their plays and started things off with a 24-20 run. Nonoy, who has been dominating the match, made two straight three-pointers off the glass to lead his team into a seven-point lead, 27-20. But Gonzales immediately answered back and capped off an 8-0 run for FEU to regain the lead, 29-30. However, Nonoy broke FEU’s momentum, hitting another three to tie the game at the end of the half, 32-all.

Physicality beyond the perimeter

The second half continued a tightly-contested affair after Michael Phillips opened the third quarter with an athletic three-point play. While the rookie’s hustle aided the Green Archers’ hot shooting period, he struggled heavily from the line, going zero-out-of-five. However, M. Phillips’ physicality controlled the trajectory of the game—finishing with 16 rebounds—as he defended and out-rebounded FEU’s bigs.

For the Tamaraws, it was FEU scoring machine LJ Gonzales who kept his team afloat as the third quarter rolled in with him making back-to-back threes, tying the game at 38-all within two minutes of the period.

But it was the Green-and-White’s combination of hot shooting and stifling defense that made the difference in the team’s 9-0 run to end the third. With FEU unable to score in the last three minutes and 42 seconds of the quarter, the Green Archers capitalized on this with Nonoy’s hot hand, who continued his perfect first-half line from downtown, including one from the logo.

While the Tamaraws were challenging the Green Archers from the paint, DLSU’s quick scoring translated to a comfortable lead going into the fourth, 58-50.

Tamaraws losing steam

The final period was an intense battle that rolled on with FEU utilizing the fastbreak; their pesky defense influenced La Salle to commit turnovers. While a Ximone Sandagon slam at the 6:00 mark of the quarter put FEU closer, 61-59, DLSU’s backcourt was quick to recover and hold their own against the charging Tamaraws after a timeout which heavily shifted the momentum in favor of the Green-and-White.

Big plays from veteran Baltazar led to a couple of crucial Lojera jumpers that halted any momentum for FEU to come back. With two minutes left, a Baltazar basket caused FEU coach Olsen Racela to call a timeout as he and his team faced an 11-2 run by the Green Archers. Unfortunately, the Tamaraws came out dry in the final minute of the game and failed to score.

DLSU finished the game with a statement and now sits comfortably with a 3-0 record.

After hitting clutch shots in the fourth, Lojera explained his crucial role in the team, sharing that his teammates trusted him to deliver during crunch time. “As one of the veterans they expect me to [hit big shots] especially Balti, I have to back him up in every possession…that’s where I get most of my confidence from,” the two-way guard expressed.

Coach Derrick Pumaren also praised the young M. Phillips for his effort, “Michael was really a live-wire today; he was very active. He out-rebounded [Ojuola] and he defended really well and played hard. That’s Michael for us really; there’s nothing surprising [with] that because he does that even in practice.”

The Green Archers will attempt to stay in the winning column on Saturday, April 2, as they face the ADMU Blue Eagles at the SM Mall of Asia Arena at 7 pm.

The Scores:

DLSU (75) – Baltazar 20, Nonoy 17, Lojera 10, Winston 9, Austria 9, M. Phillips 6, Nelle 4, Manuel 0, Nwankwo 0, B. Phillips 0

FEU (65) – Gonzales 17, Ojuola 13, Abarrientos 9, Bienes 9, Sajonia 6, Torres 5, Sandangon 4, Li 2, Alforque 0, Sleat 0, Gravera 0, Coquia 0

Quarter Scores: 19-18, 32-32, 58-50, 75-65

By Tana Melgar

By Koby del Rosario

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