FilOil: Green Archers falter against defending champions Fighting Maroons in gritty season opener, 89-77

The DLSU Green Archers were outgunned by the formidable UP Fighting Maroons in a heated UAAP Finals rematch in the FilOil EcoOil 17th Preseason Cup Elimination Round, 89-77, earlier tonight, May 11, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan, Manila.

In the valiant effort, reigning UAAP Finals MVP Kevin Quiambao chipped in 15 points, nine rebounds, and a steal. Mike Phillips complemented this performance with 13 markers, nine boards, and a block. Henry Agunanne also had 13 points, while Jonnel Policarpio posted 10 markers of his own.

On the side of the Fighting Maroons, JD Cagulangan scored a game-high 19 markers with three assists and three steals. The shifty floor general was mainly responsible for La Salle getting outscored by a whopping 24-7 in the points off-turnovers category. Meanwhile, Francis Lopez showcased his athleticism and versatility on both ends, putting up 16 points, three boards, four dimes, and three takeaways.

Lackluster opening

From the tip-off, the rival teams immediately proved that the game was not just a regular offseason matchup. Instead, a showcase of intense physicality was happening, with players defending like it was the final possession. DLSU and UP traded points and successful defensive stops for the first two minutes of the first quarter. However, the Fighting Maroons’ starters took over early and overwhelmed the La Salle cast.

With under five minutes remaining in the opening period, the Diliman-based squad was ahead, 18-11, forcing the Green Archers’ head coach, Topex Robinson, to call his first timeout to regroup. From there, more familiar faces, including Quiambao, went on the floor for DLSU.

Despite this, the Fighting Maroons only increased their defensive prowess, preventing easy baskets and fastbreak opportunities by La Salle. UP also prioritized outrunning the defending UAAP champions, often leading to easy layups from baseline cuts and steals. Although Policarpio became active at the glass and in transition, it was only enough for DLSU to stay in the game. By the end of the first quarter, the Green-and-White faced a nine-point deficit, 31-22.

Keeping composure

As the second period began, the Green Archers flipped the switch. The offense increased tempo, focusing on in-and-out scoring created by the rapid ball movement. And, following a 6-0 run, courtesy of Policarpio, Quiambao, and Phillips, La Salle was only down three, 31-28. From there, it was another back-and-forth battle.

At the 3:18 mark, Agunanne drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key to tie things up, 41-all. However, Cagulangan and Harold Alarcon sparked a 5-0 run of their own to take any chances of a DLSU lead away at the half. As both teams headed to the locker rooms, the Fighting Maroons held a five-point cushion, 46-41.

In these first two periods, Quiambao led his squad in scoring with 10 points and five rebounds. Policarpio and Phillips also contributed eight and seven markers, respectively, totaling the La Salle trio’s offensive firepower to earn 25 of the team’s 41 points.

Shakily aimed arrows

After falling short in the first half, the Green Archers stepped back on the hardwood court, determined to prove their championship capabilities by flipping the scoreboards in their favor. On DLSU’s side, the second part of the game was opened with a point earned by Russel Ogana, 47-43. Phillips getting pushed off the court by a member of the opposing team caused a slight commotion on the side of the Maroons but was quickly extinguished by the officials. 

The Green Archers struggled to keep their aim, fighting head-on with the Maroons. The game also featured an Agunanne revelation, scoring seven points in this quarter alone. Slowly but surely, the Green-and-White picked up their pace and narrowed down the gap but still could not dominate, ending the third quarter at 69-66.

With the numbers closing in, the final part of the showdown opened doors for the Green Archers to redeem their lackluster performance from the first half. Phillips was seen rebounding an attempt by JC Macalalag, making the markers move at 73-68. The game moved slowly for the Archers, the digits again growing far apart. Cagulangan from the other side of the court was seen denying shots from the Lasallians, and the side of the Maroons was overjoyed at the sight. 

After a few plays on the court, the clock suddenly stopped at 1:17, the scores at a 10-point gap, when Quiambao hit his head on the floor. Last season’s UAAP MVP had been down for a few seconds before the game was paused. A few minutes later, Policarpio allegedly elbowed one of the opponents, and in response, the Maroon held him by the neck. Another argument was seemingly heating up but was doused by the coaches and players. Shortly after, Policarpio was awarded another foul. The team from Taft put up a good fight, but it was not enough to keep up with UP’s cunning ways, the game tallied at 89-77.

La Salle’s preseason opening game was unfortunate, with their turnovers at 25, while UP’s was only at 19. The Green-and-White finished with only seven steals compared to the Maroons’ 18. Unluckily for the Lasallians, UP dominated the scoreboards for 35 minutes of the game.

The DLSU Green Archers are hopeful to avenge this familiar heartbreaking loss during their next game on Friday, May 17, versus the UST Growling Tigers at the same venue.

The Scores:

DLSU 77 Quiambao 15, Phillips 13, Agunanne 13, Policarpio 10, Austria 6, David 5, Macalalag 4, Marasigan 4, Abadam 2, Dungo 2, Ogana 2, Cortez 1, Gollena 0

UP 89 Cagulangan 19, Lopez 16, Alarcon 9, Abadiano 8, Belmonte 8, Alter 6, Ududo 6, Torculas 5, Felicilda 4, Torres 4, Fortea 2, Briones 2, Stevens 0

Quarter Scores 31-22, 46-41, 69-66, 89-77

Jamie Alberto

By Jamie Alberto

Gab Ortiz

By Gab Ortiz

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