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UAAP: Manuel-led Green Archers seal first round with an exclamation, tally fifth win

Earlier today, April 9, the DLSU Green Archers survived the Adamson Soaring Falcons fourth quarter run in a 61-58 win at the Mall of Asia Arena. 

Joaqui Manuel led the way for the Green Archers, following his rhythm in the second half with 14 points and six rebounds. Alongside Manuel were Evan Nelle with 12 points and three rebounds, Deschon Winston with 10 points and four rebounds, and Justine Baltazar with six points and five rebounds, capped by crucial defensive stops in the clutch. 

In an ill-fated effort, Jerom Lastimosa led the Soaring Falcons with 15 points, Lenda Douanga with 11 points, Joem Sabandal with 10 points, and Ahmad Hanapi with nine points. 

Stagnant offensive start 

The DLSU Green Archers started the game in rhythm with Nelle’s hot shooting, earning his first nine points in the first few minutes of the first quarter. The Green-and-White maintained their lead with Winston and Manuel scoring baskets to force the Soaring Falcons into a timeout at the 4:00 mark. Post-huddle, DLSU struggled with their attempts as Adamson’s Ahmad Hanapi and Lastimosa took advantage and tied the game at 15-all to end the quarter.

Coming off a tight first period, La Salle got back into the game after Lojera’s free throws at the start of the second frame. Michael Philipps brought back the momentum, with Lojera putting in back-to-back attacks to widen the lead. On the defensive end, Nwankwo effectively blocked Hanapi, making the Soaring Falcons scoreless in the next six minutes of the period. Capping the first half, M. Phillips showed his athleticism with a monster block against Adamson’s Ricky Peromingan. 

Cardiac finish 

It was a long-awaited game for Manuel, with the forward kicking off the second half with impressive plays on both offense and defense. Coming off a steal, Manuel made his way to the basket for a strong layup. Aggressively jumping for an offensive rebound on their next possession Manuel completes a putback for the Green Archers. Fresh from his hustle performance, Manuel showed off his offensive prowess by hitting back-to-back threes to extend their lead, 41-33, at the 5:54 mark. But the Taft-based squad was not done yet; Baltazar drove his way to the rim and further extended the team’s lead to 10. The Soaring Falcons, led by Sabandal and Cedrick Manzano were quick to react,and cut La Salle’s lead at the end of the third quarter, 45-42.

The San Marcelino-based squad made the Green-and-White silent as they entered the fourth quarter. Hanapi erased DLSU’s lead after he nailed a three-pointer early in the last frame to tie the game at 45-all. Douanga and Lastimosa came up big as they made back-to-back baskets, leaving the Green Archers pressured with nearly five minutes left in the game. But M. Phillips had enough from the 13-0 run of Adamson and contributed four consecutive points for the Green-and-White, 53-49, at the 2:48 mark. 

The Green Archers refused to back down from the gutsy Falcons, with Winston converting a crucial three-point play, cutting Adamson’s lead by just one, 53-52, with 2:11 left in the game. The newly energized Green Archers wasted no time, with Baltazar and Winston making back to back twos. This was followed by another crucial three-pointer from Nelle, soliciting cheers from the DLSU crowd. Adamson called an emergency timeout to extinguish DLSU’s fired up offense, and Zaldivar quickly answered with a three-pointer to bring Adamson within one, 59-58, with 10.4 seconds left in the game in favor of DLSU. The Soaring Falcons fouled Manuel who calmly secured two points, 61-58. In the final moments of the game, Baltazar bravely denied Zaldivar’s three point attempt to secure their win, 61-58.

Stepping up 

Despite experiencing minimal minutes in the previous games, veteran Manuel amazed everyone with his consistency and composure toward the last stretch of the game. Green Archers head coach Derrick Pumaren shared the same sentiments, “I think you have to give it to Joaqui. Hats off to him. He really [brought] his game.” “Hopefully, he continues that kind of play…he just has to stay focused on things that he’s supposed to do. He cannot relax, he cannot just be a one-game sensation,” the head coach praised the returning forward. 

Though he has adjusted to Coach Pumaren’s system and had decent performances in the past two games, Nelle felt that this was a bad game for him. “I feel like I got outplayed by Lastimosa, so I don’t count this as a good game. I just made a big shot, that’s why it looks like it’s a good game,” the floor general expressed.

As the Green Archers enter the second round of the tournament with a 5-2 record, consistency on both ends will be crucial to secure a Final Four slot this season. Leaving their first round tally on a better note than Season 82’s three victories and four losses, this could be their best shot at making their way back to having a Final Four appearance. 

The schedule for the second round of games is yet to be announced as of press time. 

The Scores: 

DLSU 61 – Manuel 14, Nelle 12, Winston 10, M. Phillips 8, Lojera 8, Baltazar 6, Galman 3, Nwankwo 0, Nonoy 0, B. Phillips 0 

AdU 58 – Lastimosa 15, Douanga 11, Sabandal 10, Hanapi 9, Zaldivar 5, Manzano 4, Magbuhos 2, Peromingan 2, Yerro 0, Colonia 0, Calisay 0, Erolon 0, Maata 0, Jaymalin 0 

Quarter Scores: 15-15, 30-36, 45-52, 61-58

By Luis Agus

By Mikaela Vallesteros

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