FilOil: Green Archers fall short of preseason title after finals loss against Fighting Maroons

Entering the finals with a pristine 11-0 record, the DLSU Green Archers settled for second place in the 16th FilOil EcoOil Preseason Cup after succumbing to the UP Fighting Maroons—who clinched their first ever title in the tournament—87-76, earlier today, June 21, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

Mythical Five member Evan Nelle spearheaded the Green Archer offense with 19 points while dishing out five assists. Mark Nonoy aided him with 13 points, while Michael Phillips was excellent defensively with 12 boards, two steals, and a block. Despite struggling in the outing with seven points on 15 field goal attempts, Kevin Quiambao was also recognized as a member of the tournament’s Mythical Five.

For the title-winning UP, it was unsung hero Mark Belmonte who led the charge with 18 points, followed up by Francis Lopez’s 16 markers and Malick Diouf’s 11 rebounds.

Maroon light, green light

Gunning to finish the tournaments with no losses, the DLSU Green Archers were ready to give it their all in the finals against a familiar foe in the UP Fighting Maroons. However, UP’s Aldous Torculas drew first blood with a quick lay-in off the tip, 2-0. Nonoy would then bank in a floater to knot up the game after a series of transition plays. As the game progressed, both squads threw haymakers at each other up to the 6:55 mark where La Salle would gain its first lead after Quiambao drained both his freebies to bring the score to 9-7.

The Diliman-based squad was quick to recover, however, as a couple of fastbreak plays gave them back the edge, 11-9. Showcasing his veteran mindset, Nelle swished in three straight jumpers, including two three-pointers, to bring DLSU back to an advantage, 17-13. Not letting the deficit jump higher for his squad, UP super rookie Lopez would connect on a three-pointer and three different athletic layups—which were challenged by a Gollena putback—to propel the Fighting Maroons to the lead after the first quarter, 30-22.

It was all UP to open the second period as Belmonte was a spark plug off the bench, sinking back-to-back 20-footers to put UP to a 12-point edge, 36-24. Bright Nwankwo’s putback was not enough for the Green and White as UP’s JD Cagulangan and Diouf would make a three and an inside shot, respectively, to extend the lead to 15, 41-26. Adding salt to the wound, Belmonte would go backdoor for a couple of five-footers that forced DLSU Head Coach Topex Robinson to a timeout with the Fighting Maroons’ lead ballooning to 19, 45-26.

Off the buzzer, Nonoy would hit it from downtown for a much-needed La Salle basket, 45-29. The Taft-based squad would then show their willingness to succeed after baskets from Nelle, Jonnel Policarpio, VJ David, CJ Austria, and EJ Gollena cut the lead to nine, 54-45, to close the first half.

Twisting the dagger

The second half of the game started off with both teams struggling to find a basket, combining two field goals in the first three minutes. The UP Maroons were the first to break their cold spell with a Cancino corner three and Diouf scoring on an inbound alley-oop to put their squad up by 13 with five minutes left in the quarter, 63-50. The Green Archers’ offensive woes continued, with Nelle blundering an inbound pass that resulted in a Lopez fastbreak dunk. However, Lopez was unfortunately injured after a bad landing on the goalpost, rendering him unable to continue playing.

With their leading scorer injured, the UP Maroons turned to other stalwarts to pick up the load. Cagulangan showed his hustle in a nice steal and fastbreak layup to increase their ballooning lead. Still struggling, the Green Archers once again blundered an inbound pass, resulting in a Belmonte three. The next few possessions saw both teams play sloppy basketball, conceding numerous turnovers back to back. 

Off the timeout, La Salle finally managed to catch a break, as a nice play led to an open Policarpio three that cut the lead to 18, 71-53. However, the stifling UP defense kept the Green Archers from mounting any sort of momentum for a comeback, forcing the struggling squad from Taft into taking ill-advised shots. The Maroons capped off their dominant third-quarter performance with a buzzer-beating floater by Abandiano, taking a gigantic 75-57 lead heading into the final quarter.

Another slow start plagued both sides in the final quarter. After two scoreless minutes, Quiambao broke DLSU’s scoring drought with his first field goal of the game. The Green Archers then followed it up with nice ball movement that led to an open Nelle three-point shot, giving the point guard his fourth three-ball of the game. The quick 5-0 run by La Salle forced UP to take a timeout.

EJ Abadam continued the Green and White run, swishing a pull-up jumper to cut UP’s lead to 11. However, the Maroons quickly answered back with two straight baskets capitalized by a momentum breaking and-one basket by Cadulangan. Not giving up, the Green Archers continued to hustle, and their extra effort paid off as Quiambao hit his first three of the game off a fastbreak, cutting the lead to 13, 82-69, with five minutes left.

The Green Archers continued their comeback, with Nonoy hitting an off-balance jumper to finally get his team within single digits. Disaster struck for the squad in green though, as Nonoy was called for a technical foul that gave UP three crucial free-throws as the lead swelled back to 12, 85-73. With two minutes left, the Maroons started to milk the clock, while the frustrated Archers started missing their consequent attempts. Asserting key free-throw makes and stops, the Maroons were able to hold off the Archers in the final minutes, emerging the victors, 87-76.

The team from Diliman celebrated their first ever title in the preseason cup after dealing the dominant La Salle team their first loss in the entire season. The Green Archers can still be proud of their and near-perfect campaign, looking to build on their strong run at the tournament.  

The Scores:

DLSU 76 – Nelle 19, Nonoy 13, Policarpio 8, Austria 7, Quiambao 7, Gollena 7, M. Phillips 7, Abadam 4, David 2, Nwankwo 2, B. Phillips 0, I. Phillips 0, Cortez 0, Escandor 0, Manuel 0, Macalalag 0

UP 87 – Belmonte 18, Lopez 16, Diouf 10, Cagulangan 10, Cansino 10, Alarcon 9, Abadiano 4, Briones 4, Alter 2, Gagate 2, Torculas 2, Pablo 0, Torres 0, Felicilda 0

Quarter Scores: 30-22, 54-45, 75-57, 87-76

Koby del Rosario

By Koby del Rosario

Julio Amir Tampis

By Julio Amir Tampis

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