The DLSU Green Archers won their sixth straight game to remain undefeated in the 2022 FilOil EcoOil Preseason Cup as they prevailed over the JRU Heavy Bombers, 74-62. Despite struggling to find their groove in the first half, the Green Archers showcased why they continue to be one of the favorites in this tournament.
Deschon Winston led the charge for La Salle with 27 points on 10/17 shooting from the field, while Kevin Quiambao recorded a terrific double-double with 10 markers and 11 boards. Bright Nwankwo was also an anchor in the paint as he tallied 11 points, nine caroms, and three rejections.
Heavy Bombers Agem Miranda and Ry Dela Rosa each contributed 14 points for JRU, while Miranda added four rebounds and five assists to his tally.
With a matchup between the first and last placers from Group B, the Green Archers were heavily favored to dominate the Heavy Bombers in this affair. However, that was not the case in the first half, with DLSU racking up several turnovers from the onset. The Taft-based squad currently averaged at 18.4 turnovers per game in the preseason tournament, but the team had already committed a staggering 14 miscues in the first half alone. JRU pounced on this opportunity as they converted 13 points off turnovers in the first two quarters.
The positive note from the Green and White was their aggressiveness in attacking the paint as they drew a total of 17 fouls, which led to 23 free throw attempts in the first half. Michael Phillips led the way in the free throw department by swishing 3-for-7 at the charity stripe in the first period. In traditional La Salle fashion, the Green Archers struggled mightily from the line, which is a primary reason why the game was tight in the first half.
The squad’s second unit received more playing time in the first half as Quiambao and Nwankwo provided a boost with eight and seven first-half markers, respectively. The physicality and ruggedness of the Heavy Bombers were in full effect as the team from Taft failed to orchestrate their offensive sets consistently. Six-foot-two guard Geremy Robinson Jr. donned the DLSU jersey for the first time in the second quarter but struggled with the constant bumping and pushing of JRU. In six minutes, he committed two turnovers and tallied a subpar 1-for-4 shooting from the charity stripe.
Despite the mediocre offensive showing, the defensive prowess of a Pumaren-led squad was in full effect as JRU committed 12 first-half turnovers and converted less than 40 percent shooting from the field. This low-scoring affair forced the half to end in a deadlock at 35-all after a Winston layup with 19 seconds remaining.
With the score being tied after the first half of the match, the Green Archers started the third quarter strong as their much-improved defense translated to scoring opportunities. M. Phillips broke the deadlock with a layup coming from an Evan Nelle steal, 39-37. DLSU started to pull away with a Winston three pointer and Nelle step back jumper to extend the lead to seven, 42-35. JRU head coach Louie Gonzales was consequently forced to call a timeout but the Heavy Bombers failed to respond, as M. Phillips scored again inside off a Nelle assist. Heavy Bomber Joshua Guiab finally scored the first basket for JRU off a missed free throw from Gonzales, with 5:06 left in the third frame, 44-37.
At this point, the Green Archers were taking advantage of a scoring barrage after successfully executing their offensive sets. Winston heated up from beyond the three-point arc in the later part of the third period, draining back-to-back three-pointers to extend the lead, 50-39. Nelle then scored off the fast break from a Nwankwo steal to give the team from Taft a comfortable cushion, 52-39. However, the Heavy Bombers refused to quit and ended the third frame on a 9-4 run off a William Sy three pointer to bring the lead down to a single-digit margin, 59-50.
Coming off a momentous basket to end the third frame, Sy opened the final quarter with a three-pointer to make it a six-point contest, 59-53. Both teams entered a scoring drought triggered by stark defense and sloppy offensive flow. The game was scoreless for three minutes until Joaqui Manuel’s three pointer from a Penny Estacio assist, 62-53, breaking the dry spell for the Green Archers. Keeping the final quarter’s momentum, Heavy Bomber Dela Rosa answered back with a jumper, 62-55, with 6:16 left.
La Salle’s zone defense worked to their advantage in the final few minutes of the game as they limited JRU to just 12 points in the final quarter. Winston iced the game for the Green Archers with back-to-back layups with 1:28 left to push the lead to 14, 72-58. Dela Rosa knocked down a three-pointer to retaliate but it was too little, too late. Nwankwo then scored the last basket of the game, 74-62, continuing DLSU’s winning streak in the tournament.
Bouncing back from the abysmal first-half showing, DLSU head coach Derrick Pumaren explains, “We’re still not in a position to be like this [lackadaisical effort]. We have to play consistent basketball, we cannot just choose which games to turn it on.
“It’s definitely important to keep the momentum going and to keep pushing as a team. We needed to win this one and move onto the next game,” adds Winston.
The DLSU Green Archers will look to wrap up the elimination round with a clean slate as they go up against the CSJL Knights on Saturday, August 20 at 5 pm at the same venue.
DLSU 74 – Winston 27, Nwankwo 11, Quiambao 10, M. Phillips 7, Manuel 5, Nelle 4, Austria 4, Escandor 2, B. Phillips 2, Cortez 1, Robinson 1, Buensalida 0, Estacio 0, Galman 0, Montecillo 0
JRU 62 – Miranda 14, Dela Rosa 14, Sy 9, Medina 6, De Jesus 6, Guiab 4, Amores 3, Dionisio 2, De Leon 2, Celis 2, Benitez 0, Bongay 0, Gonzales 0, Villarin 0
Quarter Scores: 19-20, 35-35, 59-50, 74-62