UAAP: Green Archers end championship drought with win over Fighting Maroons, 73-69

The DLSU Green Archers fully realized their dream of bringing glory back to Taft after defeating the UP Fighting Maroons, 73-69, in Game Three of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Finals earlier today, December 6, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Starting the season with a 4-3 record, La Salle went on a nine-game winning streak, before losing in Game One of the Finals en route to the team’s 10th overall championship.

This season’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), Kevin Quiambao, led the Green and White in their awe-inspiring performance, finishing with 24 points, nine rebounds, and four assists as he was ultimately also named the Finals MVP with averages of 14.6 points, 9.3 boards, and 2.7 assists. Complimenting him was Evan Nelle’s 12 markers, seven assists, and six boards as well as Michael Phillips’ dominating 16 caroms.

In the trying effort, Malick Diouf paced the Fighting Maroons with 21 points and 14 rebounds—followed by Rookie of the Year Francis Lopez’s 12 markers and nine boards.

Fans, fouls, and fastbreaks 

With more than 25,192 spectators in attendance, the DLSU Green Archers knew they had to give it their all in the final game of the season for the UAAP Men’s Basketball Championship to return back to Taft. After a minute of rattling defense from both ends, Francis Escandor would break through with an off-hand layup to open the game’s scoring, 2-0.

Quickly answering back was Diouf with a transition lay-in, putting the game at 2-all momentarily. In a hotly-contested game thus far, Joaqui Manuel would be called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Francis Lopez, which was superseded by a Harold Alarcon technical call on Nelle on the other end. As more foul calls ensued, DLSU would enjoy its first lead after consecutive three-balls from Quiambao and Joshua David, 11-8.

A frenzy of transition makes would unfold next as Gerry Abadiano and JD Cagulangan would challenge CJ Austria’s reverse five-footer, as their plays set up Lopez to break away with an and-one lay for La Salle to lose the edge, 14-13.

After a TV timeout was called to cool off the game’s unmatched tension, JC Macalalag and Jonnel Policarpio would make their presence known as their spark off the bench would combat UP’s Janjan Felicilda and Aldous Torculas surge to conclude the first period with a tight one-point advantage, 22-21.

Free throws and forcing timeouts

UP’s graduating forward CJ Cansino would open the second period scoring with a mid-range jumper as the Diliman-based squad took control early on, with Felicilda and Diouf supplementing the rally, 27-23. Quiambao’s three-pointer would be the only DLSU score yet as Alarcon’s score forced the Green and White to a timeout, 31-26.

Off the whistle, Mark Nonoy’s fifteen-footer would then cause UP Head Coach Goldwin Monteverde to call a timeout, 31-28. It worked wonders for the team from Diliman as a six-point run brought their lead to nine, 37-28.

The Taft-based squad would not let up, however, as M. Phillips threw down one of his patented dunks, which subsequently turned into a Lopez goaltend call after a La Salle steal for Nonoy—quickly cutting the DLSU deficit to five, 37-32.

Both teams would play the free-throw game as the matchup’s unparalleled intensity would raise the roof off of the second period with unsportsmanlike and technical foul calls; the first of which was a call on Nelle that resulted in two Lopez freebies, 39-32. 

As DLSU would claw their way back, Quiambao’s flashy no-look pass to a running Nonoy would cause a UP timeout, as the Green and White continued to trim their deficit down to three, 39-36. M. Phillips then banked on the momentum straight from the buzzer with another strong dunk to put his team within striking distance, 39-38.

The Fighting Maroons did all their best to control the situation as it led Reyland Torres to shove M. Phillips—which became yet another unsportsmanlike foul for the half. With both teams doing damage from the charity stripe in the remainder of the second, UP would put themselves up to end the first half, 43-39.

A grit and grind finish

The Green Archers came into the second half of play swinging, cutting the lead down to one at 47-46 after back-to-back baskets by Quiambao. They managed to swing the lead to as much as four at 53-49 after Policarpio’s three at the top of the key and Nonoy’s breakaway answer, 53-49. Following a display of defensive grit, Diouf and Alarcon managed to pull back the lead for UP with baskets of their own to end the third quarter with the lead, 58-55, after Nonoy’s three-point attempt to beat the buzzer rattled out.

Cansino opened up the final quarter with a shot from beyond the arc to spark a swing in favor of the team from Diliman, 65-58. No stranger to coming back from behind, the Green Archers dug in deep to string together some stops.

Cementing their place in history 

After DLSU managed to force a turnover on Lopez who swung the ball wide, the combo of Nelle and Quiambao proved themselves big-time, combining for 10 points by scoring clutch shot after clutch shot to allow DLSU to enter the final two minutes with a narrow three-point lead, 70-67. The last two minutes were a slugfest with both teams canceling each other out defensively to both be rendered scoreless in the dying moments of the game. Abadiano almost managed to cut the lead to one, but Quiambao chased him down for a block in the last 30 seconds, managing to keep possession in favor of DLSU as Robinson called for time.

La Salle was unable to capitalize offensively but got another stop on UP, seeing them with possession of the ball with 7.4 seconds to play. DLSU inbounded the ball to Quiambao who split his freebies before Lopez finished a putback to cut the lead to two at 71-69. Seconds away from the Green Archers’ first UAAP championship in seven years, it was none other than Quiambao who closed out the affair after being fouled with two at the line, 73-69, cementing La Salle as the Season 86 Men’s Basketball Champions.

DLSU Head Coach Topex Robinson described the feeling of being a champion as one that is “no other.” This victory marks his first championship as a collegiate coach. “I can’t explain the feeling. Everything’s not really wrapped in my head right now. I’m just making sure to not let anything pass by without focusing on what’s ahead of us,” he added.

For Finals MVP Quiambao, all of the hardships were well worth it. “Sobrang sarap ng pakiramdam. Makapagpahinga din ako.” He also gave due praise to his mentor, “Thank you Coach Topex [Robinson] sa pag-unleash ng potential koNakuha na namin yung championship kahit at first maraming nag-doubt sa amin.”

(The feeling is surreal. I can finally rest. Thank you Coach Topex Robinson for unleashing my potential…We got the championship even if a lot doubted us at first.)

The Scores:

DLSU 73 – Quiambao 24, Nelle 12, Policarpio 8, Nonoy 8, M. Phillips 5, Macalalag 5, Escandor 4, David 3, Austria 3, Cortez 1, Abadam 0, Manuel 0, B. Phillips 0, Nwankwo 0, I. Phillips 0

UP 69 – Diouf 21, Lopez 12, Alarcon 10, Cagulangan 8, Felicilda 5, Cansino 5, Torculas 4, Abadiano 2, Torres 2, Fortea 0, Pablo 0, Alter 0

Quarter Scores: 22-21, 43-39, 58-55, 73-69

Koby del Rosario

By Koby del Rosario

Diego Manzano

By Diego Manzano

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