The DLSU Green Archers advance to the semifinals of the 2022 FilOil EcoOil Preseason Cup after defeating the CSB Blazers, 83-74, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre today, August 23. Despite the Blazers’ attempts at putting up a tough battle, DLSU’s tenacious defense and stellar ball movement propelled them to outlast their cross-street neighbors.
Kevin Quiambao was the main man for La Salle as he recorded 18 points, five rebounds, and seven assists. Michael Phillips closed in on a double-double as he contributed 10 points and eight caroms. For DLSU, it was a balanced scoring output as their bench outscored Benilde’s second unit, 62-19, which spelled the difference for this knockout match.
For the opposition, Saint Benilde was led by center Will Gozum, who posted 26 points and 10 boards. Miggy Corteza also chipped in with 14 markers and seven rebounds before injuring his ankle late in the fourth period.
Flipping the switch
From the onset, both schools had a tough time in manufacturing baskets as they were still at single digits at the halfway point of the first period. CSB created separation at the 4:07 mark as Miguel Oczon’s triple increased their advantage to five, 11-6. At the latter juncture of the opening frame, DLSU head coach Derrick Pumaren inserted his second unit, which changed the tide of the ballgame.
Down 13-8 with 1:44 left in the first period, the Blazers’ lead was quickly eradicated due to a barrage of triples by Quiambao, Mark Nonoy, and Raven Cortez. The nine straight points gave the Green Archers a 17-13 lead heading to the second canto. However, DLSU’s run did not stop there as the unit of Quiambao, Nonoy, Cortez, Joaqui Manuel, and CJ Austria was the catalyst to an unstoppable 18-2 spurt that extended the lead to 11, 26-15.
Quiambao’s fantastic first-half showing gave Pumaren the luxury of resting the Phillips brothers for the second half. The prized rookie and Gilas Pilipinas center tallied an impressive 12 markers in 13 first-half minutes. Starting point guard Evan Nelle failed to score a basket in the first two quarters, despite controlling the floor for Green Archers. The playmaker contributed five boards and six dishes for the DLSU team.
Before halftime, the Blazers cut the lead to as little as eight via a Corteza and-one conversion with 52 seconds left. The Green Archers answered with a quick 6-0 run to bring a 42-28 edge heading into the halftime break.
Dominance over Taft
After a masterclass showing from the Quiambao-led DLSU bench in the first half, it was CSB superstar Gozum who led the Blazers to a mighty comeback in the third frame of the matchup. A spark lit under the Blazers’ big man, who relentlessly attacked the basket and drove through the lane each time to score. M. Phillips answered back for the Green Archers to help maintain the lead. With DLSU still ahead, 50-38, CSB continued their white-hot offense and went on a 9-0 run to bring the lead to only three, 50-47.
With his side’s lead teetering on the edge, Quiambao was sent back in for the DLSU squad. Attempting to put out the fire, the rookie busted out his bag of moves with nifty midrange jumpers and a heads-up style of playmaking. The Taft tussle continued as the two teams duked it out and traded baskets, but the Green Archers still remained on top, 56-52. The Lasallians made the most of their fastbreak opportunities and scored in quick bursts, but the Benildeans were not going to back down as Robi Nayve drained a deep three-pointer to end the third quarter with La Salle still on top, 66-61.
The final quarter picked up right where it left off with two quick baskets to start from DLSU and a three from Nayve. Despite the Green Archers only leading by six, the two teams started to sputter as both lacked on offense. After a standstill at 70-64, Oczon stepped into a three-point shot, and Gozum converted on a putback to end the Benilde cold spell, 72-69. With the game slowing down toward the final minutes, neither team seemed to have a sure win under their belts. Springing to action, DLSU attacked the baseline with a Nelle stepback jumper followed by Quiambao fadeaway to pad their lead. 78-70.
Down but not yet out, Gozum made two free throws after forcing himself to the charity stripe, 78-72. This would be for nought as Quiambao read the CSB defense in the following possession and swung the ball to Winston for the corner three to put the nail in the coffin. With not enough time left on the clock, Nelle would sink free throws to ice the game, 83-74.
It was a rough start for La Salle, “We were not ready to play right away from the start, but Kevin [Quiambao] gave us a big lift, and we needed him today,” lauds Pumaren. In the middle of a possible nine-day stretch of playing a maximum of seven games, Pumaren also commented on their fatigue, “Of course, they are tired, but it’s all [in] the mind. If you think you are tired, then you are tired.”
With the win, the Green Archers advance to the semifinals as they await the winner of the UP Fighting Maroons-FEU Tamaraws quarterfinals matchup. Afterward, both semifinals matchups will be held on Thursday, August 25, at the same venue.
DLSU 83 – Quiambao 18, M. Phillips 10, Cortez 9, Nonoy 9, Manuel 8, Austria 8, Buensalida 6, Winston 5, Nelle 4, Macalalag 4, B. Phillips 2, Escandor 0
CSB 74 – Gozum 26, Corteza 14, Pasturan 9, Carlos 9, Nayve 8, Oczon 6, Sangco 2, Cullar 0, Marcos 0, Flores 0, Davis 0
Quarter Scores: 17-13, 42-28, 66-61, 83-74