UAAP: Green Archers squander early lead, fail late comeback against the Fighting Maroons

After a disappointing overtime loss to the NU Bulldogs, the DLSU Green Archers once again fell short of a victory in UAAP Season 86 as they fell to the undefeated UP Fighting Maroons, who continue to build on their best start in the Final Four era, 67-64, earlier tonight, October 18, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. With this heartbreaking loss, the Green Archers’ first-round record has evened out at 3-3.

In a valiant effort for La Salle, Michael Phillips posted a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds to go along with three blocks. Backing him up was Kevin Quiambao who contributed 14 points and seven rebounds. 

Reigning Most Valuable Player Malick Diouf tallied his fifth double-double performance of the season with 10 points and a massive 18 rebounds to lead the Fighting Maroons to their sixth victory in as many games in the first round. Fiery guards Gerry Abadiano and Harold Alarcon also accumulated 13 and 10 points, respectively. 

Working both ends

Without the presence of floor general Evan Nelle, who did not suit up for the game due to a quad contusion, the rest of the Green Archers had no choice but to step up. Bright Nwankwo started the DLSU assault by anchoring the paint on the defensive end and later hustling on offense to get La Salle’s first four points, 4-3. Former high school teammates and now college rivals Gerry Abadiano and Quiambao both got hot early from deep, but the Green Archer came out on top of the showing by cashing in back-to-back triples to put La Salle ahead, 12-7. 

The Green and White’s suffocating halfcourt defense forced UP into taking several tough shots, which rewarded DLSU on the offensive end with multiple shot opportunities. M. Phillips took advantage of this by sinking a three from the top of the key to give DLSU a 19-11 advantage, but this was immediately answered back with a possession later by an and-one triple from Alarcon, 19-15. The Green Archers kept up their defensive pressure nearing the end of the first quarter and relentlessly fought their way to the basket to get shots at the charity stripe, giving them a 28-21 cushion entering the second canto. 

A game of runs

The second quarter spelled a different story as it saw numerous momentum shifts for both sides. After a solid run from DLSU to start the quarter, UP Coach Goldwin Monteverde was forced to take a timeout at the 7:21 mark to stop a 35-24 deficit from ballooning further. This proved to be a turning point for the Diliman-based squad as they firmly held La Salle scoreless for the next five minutes with their tight defense in the post and smart anticipation in passing lanes. The Fighting Maroons then went on an emphatic 11-0 run, which saw them take several offensive boards, which was then capped off by Francis Lopez sinking two free throws to even the match at 35-all.

Determined to end their scoring drought, M. Phillips finally converted a basket for La Salle at the 2:53 mark as he squeezed in a shot in the post, 37-35. This signaled the start of an electric 10-3 run from DLSU to close out the half, as they hustled for second-chance points and defended well in transition, 47-38. 

Nail-biting exchanges

Coming off the halftime break, the Fighting Maroons played a two-three zone defense to stifle the hot shooting of the Green Archers, which played a key role in cutting the lead to three. After an Alarcon layup, 50-47, DLSU Head Coach Topex Robinson was compelled to call a timeout with under six minutes left in the quarter. The third-quarter run of UP continued as they attacked the interior defense of La Salle and scored easily, Cansino got away with a layup, 57-50. 

UP showed exactly why they were undefeated, as the team from Taft only scored three points in the whole third frame with only a score from Quiambao’s opening second of the half. UP ended the third quarter with a massive 21-0 run to build a nine-point lead, 59-50.

Entering the last quarter, David ended the scoring drought for the Green and White with a pair of free throws, 59-52. The first field goal made by Green Archers over a 15-minute span came from a corner three-pointer from David and a poster jam coming from M. Phillips, which forced the Fighting Maroons to call a timeout, 63-57. Surrounded by a Final Four-like atmosphere, Quiambao scored a turnaround jumper to finally tie the game at 63-all. 

Unfortunately, the heroic effort of Nonoy to stop the fast break from Alarcon’s layup with a chasedown block, the Green Archers failed to execute a game-tying play with 2.9 seconds left as Manuel threw the ball away to Cansino. La Salle dropped to a 3-3 win-loss record with this defeat from UP, 67-64.

Despite the painful loss against the current top seed, Coach Robinson reiterates that these kinds of games benefit the team with much basketball still to be played in the tournament, affirming, “We always want to be in that situation—those situations will make you stronger. Being mentally tough means we have a shorter memory.” 

For M. Phillips, competing until the end and executing the game plan was the priority. He thanked La Salle fans who came out and supported the team. “For me, I just think it was a very exciting game—a very good game for both teams. And a lot of fans came out on a Wednesday night, so hopefully we gave them something worth their time,” he expressed.

The DLSU Green Archers look to bounce back and finish the first round on a high note against the UE Red Warriors this coming Saturday, October 21, at 4 pm at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion.

The Scores:

UP 67 – Abadiano 13, Alarcon 10, Diouf 10, Lopez 7, Cansino 7, Torres 7, Belmonte 7, Cagulangan 6, Felicilda 0, Alter 0, Torculas 0, Pablo 0, Gonzales 0

DLSU 64 – M. Phillips 15, Quiambao 14, David 7, Manuel 7, Nwankwo 6, Nonoy 5, Austria 5, Abadam 2, Macalalag 2, Policarpio 1, Escandor 0, B. Phillips 0, Gollena 0

Quarter Scores: 28-21, 47-38, 50-59, 67-64

Jaden Alberto

By Jaden Alberto

Raphael Serrano

By Raphael Serrano

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