The DLSU Green Archers fell to the UP Fighting Maroons in a hard-fought contest earlier tonight, 78-74. This loss sees the Taft-based squad out of contention for the UAAP Season 84 crown. The Fighting Maroons advanced to the Finals where they will go against the ADMU Blue Eagles.
Deschon Winston led the Green Archers, scoring 26 points in a valiant effort. Mark Nonoy proved to be a spark off of the bench, posting 11 points and three assists. Rookie big man Mike Phillips had a well-rounded performance—recording 10 points, 17 rebounds, and four assists.
Carl Tamayo led the comeback for the Fighting Maroons, tallying 19 points and 10 boards, with majority of it coming in the final quarter. Malick Diouf was a force inside yet again as he contributed 14 points and 17 caroms. Harold Alarcon and Ricci Rivero also chipped in with double figures, recording 14 and 12 markers, respectively.
With UP head coach Goldwin Montevedere deciding not to start Diouf and James Spencer, DLSU took advantage of the game with quick and easy buckets from the get go. Similar to the contest last Wednesday, Evan Nelle showcased his floor general skills by setting up terrific plays for M.Phillips and Winston, propelling the Green Archers to an early advantage in the first quarter, 11-4.
The frontcourt rotation of Green Archers head coach Derrick Pumaren worked wonders in the first period as M. Phillips and Nwankwo provided effective interior defense against UP’s bigs. Winston’s assertiveness after a lackluster outing last game was vital in the hot start of DLSU as he tallied seven instant points through his in-between shots and spectacular layups. Even with the Fighting Maroons racking up numerous free throws, the Green Archers still held the lead, 22-15, at the end of the first period.
Despite calling an early timeout in the second frame, the Fighting Maroons clawed their way back to the game by forcing numerous turnovers and quick transition baskets, highlighted by a Rivero dunk, to cut the lead down to five, 34-29. Alarcon and Rivero were the catalysts of the Fighting Maroons’ comeback by scoring nine and seven markers, respectively. Pumaren was forced to insert Nelle, Justine Baltazar, and the rest of the first unit to regain momentum for the Green-and-White.
A plethora of physical plays and rugged situations forced many stoppages in the first half, but Winston’s midrange shots and triples led the Green Archers to a five-point lead heading to the locker room. Fourteen turnovers in 20 minutes were a lot for DLSU, but their 48.6-percent efficiency from the field allowed them to build a cushion.
DLSU entered the second half without missing a beat—pushing the tempo and containing UP on the defensive end. Winston stayed hot, pouring in seven points to bring the lead to 10 at 53-43, with five minutes remaining in the quarter.
Both teams traded blows, but the Green Archers managed to hold on to their lead at 57-47 in the three-minute mark. The Diliman-based squad fought tooth-and-nail to trim the deficit—reducing it to six—before Nonoy sparked his team to a 7-0 run. La Salle ended the third quarter with a 13-point lead, 64-51—their biggest advantage of the contest so far.
Slipping on the brink of Finals
The Fighting Maroons started the fourth quarter with five straight points to build a steady momentum. DLSU’s highest scoring duo of Baltazar and Winston answered back, proving their metal and delivering six points. The Green Archers remained in control of the scoreboard, 70-56, at the seven-minute mark.
As both sides struggled to score, UP’s chances of a Finals berth seemed to be slipping away. But the Maroons’ full court press, accompanied by their relentlessness, reduced the DLSU lead to as little as two with two minutes left in the match.
M. Phillips, characteristically, did not back down, elevating for two points at the rim to give his team some breathing room and to push the score to 73-69, with just under two minutes to go. Rookie Tamayo was then fouled on a drive and converted both of his free throws, turning it into a one-possession game. Turnovers continued to plague the Green Archers, and the game was eventually tied seconds before the final minute. To complete UP’s comeback, former Green Archer Mai Cagulangan stole an inbound pass and fed the ball to Tamayo for an easy two.
M. Phillips was fouled at the rim, splitting his shots at the stripe to give the Green Archers a slim one-point lead. With less than 30 seconds remaining, Tamayo challenged Baltazar one-on-one at the top of the key, drove in for two points, and earned a bonus free throw. The shaken team in green were desperate for a bucket, but Nelle’s floater did not fall. Former Bullpup Tamayo ultimately booked his team’s ticket to the Finals with two more free throws.
The team from Taft’s Season 84 run came to an end after a valiant effort, 78-74.
“We definitely had this. We learned a lot. We’re changing the culture. I’m new here, but they said it’s been awhile since we made the Final Four,” Winston stated.
“I think [we are headed in the right direction]. We weren’t even considered to make it to the Final Four. We weren’t counted as a title contender. We were able to achieve our immediate goal to make it to the Final Four,” Pumaren expressed.
For seniors Baltazar and Kurt Lojera, their UAAP journeys end tonight, but their contributions as leaders to DLSU’s Final Four return were nothing short of invaluable.
Winston affirmed this, “Kurt and Balti are like big brothers to us, we were kind of thanking them in the locker room. They’ll be missed. Those were the key guys in the team. Those are the big brothers.”
DLSU 74 – Winston 26, Nonoy 11, M. Phillips 10, Baltazar 9, Nelle 6, Manuel 4, Nwankwo 4, Lojera 2, Austria 2, B. Phillips 0
UP 78 – Tamayo 19, Diouf 14, Alarcon 14, Rivero 12, Abadiano 7, Cagulangan 6, Spencer 5, Lucero 1, Ramos 0
Quarter Scores: 22-15, 44-39, 64-51, 74-78