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UAAP: Green Archers fall short despite late comeback effort against Fighting Maroons

After another tightly contested battle between both teams, the DLSU Green Archers succumbed yet again to the UP Fighting Maroons in their second round matchup earlier today, April 23, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. DLSU’s Mark Nonoy missed the game-tying three-pointer in the final possession of the game, causing UP to pull away with the victory, 72-69.

Carl Tamayo led the UP Fighting Maroons with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Maodo Diouf contributed 15 points and 18 rebounds. Former Green Archer Ricci Rivero also chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds. 

In a losing effort, Justine Baltazar pitched in 16 points and 12 rebounds. Putting in the effort for the team from Taft also were Deschon Winston with 16 points and four rebounds, Kurt Lojera with 13 points and four rebounds, and Michael Phillips with eight points and 14 rebounds. 

Shaky start 

The DLSU Green Archers started the game with a three-pointer from Nonoy, followed by a flurry of traded points, with Fighting Maroons Zavier Lucero and Tamayo making wide open baskets. Following their run, Evan Nelle ignited the momentum for the DLSU with a three, making way for a 7-0 run—with M. Phillips and Lojera scoring back-to-back layups. But Tamayo halted the DLSU run with a corner three, ending the first period with a tight one-point lead in favor of the Fighting Maroons, 18-17. 

In the second period, the Diliman-based squad asserted dominance on both ends as the Green-and-White struggled to get their shots in. The Fighting Maroons made continuous runs to build a double-digit lead while having pesky defensive sets against the struggling Green Archers. Baltazar ended DLSU’s scoring drought by draining a three and converting two free throws. At the 6:15 mark of the second quarter, Green Archers head coach Derrick Pumaren forced a much needed timeout to regroup his players. Post-huddle, the Green Archers continued to struggle offensively while UP continued to score, forcing another emergency timeout at the 2:34 mark of the quarter. Winston drilled a much needed triple nearing the end of the period, closing the first half with an 11-point lead by UP, 42-31. 

The tough get going

Down by double digits at the half, Pumaren was eager to fire back at the leading Fighting Maroons. Unfortunately, the Green-and-White were unable to capitalize on the halftime break and saw the UP lead grow to 15 at the 6-minute mark. It was an all-around affair for the Fighting Maroons as all players on court were scoring left and right due to a free-flowing offense that gave them open looks. 

A timeout by DLSU paid dividends as the squad went on an 8-2 run, building off the exceptional defense played. Lojera proved to be a spark plug for the trailing Green Archers as he came off the bench and energized the arena with his acrobatic baskets. It was run-and-gun all throughout the third quarter as both teams ran the break and exchanged blows. Towering over most of UP’s shot attempts was M. Phillips, who contributed his fair share of shot rejections in the quarter. At the end of the thrilling fastbreak showdown, it was the Diliman-based squad who sat on top with a seven point lead, 56-49. 

Almost but not quite 

After a tiring third quarter, the final frame was a hot start for Tamayo, who scored on back to back attempts inside. Now with the opposing lead in double digits again in the early minutes of the fourth quarter, 60-49, the Green Archers needed to answer back. 

Again, it was Lojera who put his foot on the gas for the Green Archers. With determination, the Green-and-White were able to cut the lead to five, following three unanswered tries from Lojera, Winston, and Nonoy. The score was now within two possessions with the Fighting Maroons leading, 64-59. The Green Archers battled hard to gain momentum, and it was Rivero who silenced the crowd with a three-point make from the corner. This was followed by Tamayo’s post score. 

Recurrent in DLSU’s season is the inability to convert off of their defensive stops. In the fourth frame, DLSU struggled to score points off forced turnovers. But coming off his hot streak, Winston soared and converted on a contested mid-range jumpshot. With the lead within shouting distance, Winston attempted a three-point shot and was fouled; he only made two of three at the stripe.

Banking on their defense in the dying minutes of the match, the Green Archers forced a stop, which resulted in an M. Phillips putback, cutting the deficit to three with eight seconds left in the game. Pumaren called a timeout and drew up a play for a three-pointer, with hopes of sending the game to overtime. The inbound pass was made and Nonoy wriggled free to the corner for a wide open shot but unfortunately missed, finalizing the victory for the Fighting Maroons and granting the squad a sure Final Four slot. 

Despite the loss, Pumaren tried to remain optimistic, “We have to keep pounding, keep grinding.” 

The team’s Animo spirit needs to be on full display as they match up against the FEU Tamaraws on Tuesday, 10 am, at the Mall of Asia Arena to clinch a Final Four berth. “Most important thing is we stay positive and bounce back,” Pumaren stressed.

The Scores: 

DLSU 69 – Baltazar 16, Winston 16, Lojera 13, M. Phillips 8,  Nelle 7, Nonoy 7, B. Phillips 2, Manuel 0, Escandor 0, Nwankwo 0, Cuajao 0 

UP 72 – Tamayo 23, Diouf 15, Rivero 11, Lucero 9, Fortea 8, Cagulangan 4, Spencer 2, Abadiano 0, Cansino 0, Alarcon 0, Lina 0 

Quarter Scores:  17-18, 42-31, 59-49, 72-69

By Mikaela Vallesteros

By Jaime de los Reyes

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