The DLSU Green Archers suffered a heartbreaking UAAP Season 85 opener against the reigning champions UP Fighting Maroons, 72-69, earlier today, October 1, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Carl Tamayo led the way for the Fighting Maroons with a massive double-double of 18 points and 19 rebounds, while sharpshooter Terrence Fortea chipped in 15 points and nine assists.
In a losing effort, Schonny Winston topped the Green Archers in the scoring department with 27 points on 67 percent efficiency, hitting 12 shots out of 18. On the other hand, Mike Phillips contributed eight points and 20 rebounds for the team.
At the early juncture of the first frame, DLSU rode off to a cruising start as UP’s interior defense was nowhere to be found. M. Phillips and Winston then capitalized on this advantage with consecutive layups and a pull-up jumper in the middle, commanding La Salle to an early 6-2 lead at the 3:40 mark.
M. Phillips’ suffocating defense was also noticeable from the get-go—already tallying two blocks within the first six minutes of the match. However, the team from Diliman brought back their championship-worthy poise at the end of the first timeout. The latter minutes of the opening period turned into a back-and-forth affair for both teams, with Tamayo converting two fastbreak layups and Mark Nonoy consecutively draining a triple from the wing to snatch a 15-14 lead. Team captain Joaqui Manuel then extended the lead to three with a baseline jumper, but was answered right back as Fortea fired off a midrange to close out the first quarter, 17-16.
After a back-and-forth first quarter, the game looked set for a grueling affair as both teams came up with stellar runs. UP looked to take control of the affair after Lucero scored five straight points, attributing these to a three from the top of the key and a layup on the fastbreak, giving the Fighting Maroons a 23-20 advantage at the 7:53 mark. DLSU struggled with their outside shooting at the start of the quarter but kept themselves in the game by attacking the paint and getting to the line with Nonoy and Manuel pitching in from the stripe.
After sitting out the opening of the second quarter, Winston picked up where he left off by making two pull-up jump shots. James Spencer answered back with a shot from beyond the arc to tie the game at 28-all with 3:42 remaining. The Green Archers then went on a blistering 11-0 run to give them a 39-29 lead at the 1:53 mark. This was ignited by La Salle’s full court press, which forced UP to commit multiple turnovers that led to transition layups for Austria, Phillips, Nelle, and Winston. Fortea kept the game from getting too far out of UP’s reach with two deep shots as the quarter ended with DLSU holding a 42-34 advantage.
The penultimate quarter saw UP spearheading an early 6-0 run to trim La Salle’s lead to two built on a Tamayo post shot and a jumper from Zavier Lucero, capped by Cyril Gonzales running the fastbreak for a layup, 42-40. Winston quickly countered by swishing a jumper from the wing to end the scoring drought for the Green and White. Unfortunately, it was then responded right back by a Fortea baseline triple, 44-43.
The California-native’s efficiency proved to be a game-changing factor for the Green and White as he led the charge for a much-needed run for his team, hitting UP with quick pull-up mid-range shots and floaters to set a commanding 54-46 lead. With under one minute left, UP’s Harold Alarcon and Tamayo sliced up the lead to four with uncontested shots at the post to cap off the third frame, 54-50.
The Green Archers looked to put the game away in the fourth quarter but struggled once again to get their offense going. The Fighting Maroons finally tied the game at 54-all from a turnover that led to an easy layup for Fortea at the 8:43 mark. Bright Nwankwo gave DLSU the lead once again with a layup despite getting fouled in the paint. UP answered back with a gritty 6-0 run, with Miguel Ramos outmuscling Winston for a three-point play to give them a 60-57 advantage with 5:57 remaining. Diouf added to UP’s lead with two layups but Quiambao kept the Green Archers alive with a three to cut the deficit to two with 1:35 on the clock. Unluckily, Tamayo came right back with a clutch stepback jump shot that gave UP a two-possession lead.
The Fighting Maroons led by six with 0:16 on the clock but the Green Archers attempted a last-ditch comeback with a layup from M. Phillips. DLSU then forced a turnover on the inbound pass, leading to a bank shot three from Nelle that reduced the UP lead to one with seven seconds remaining. However, Tamayo ended La Salle’s comeback hopes by icing the game with two clutch free throws. The Green Archers were not able to attempt a game-tying three in the last seconds of the game as Nelle turned the ball over, giving the Fighting Maroons a 72-69 victory.
Winston shared his thoughts on what needed to be addressed moving forward, “Fourth quarter execution is really the difference. Staying focused and locked in in that fourth quarter is big for our team and I think we’re gonna improve on it going into the season.”
The Green Archers look to secure their first win in Season 85 as they face the UST Tigers at 4:30 pm on Wednesday, October 5, at the PhilSports Arena.
UP 72 – Tamayo 18, Fortea 15, Diouf 9, Spencer 8, Lucero 7, Gonzales 7, Alarcon 5, Ramos 3, Torculas 0, Lina 0, Galinato 0, Calimag 0, Eusebio 0, Abadiano 0
DLSU 69 – Winston 27, Nelle 9, M. Phillips 8, Nonoy 8, Quiambao 5, Austria 5, Manuel 4, Nwankwo 2, Macalalag 2, B. Phillips 0
Quarter Scores: 16-17, 34-42, 50-54, 72-69