PINOYLIGA: Jacob Cortez leads Green Archers to inaugural Pinoyliga championship reign after taming Bulldogs in a heated Finals brawl, 84-81

The DLSU Green Archers garnered another preseason championship to their collection after thwarting the NU Bulldogs in the Pinoyliga Collegiate Cup Finals, 84-81, yesterday, June 10, at the Amoranto Sports Complex. 

In his first tournament playing for the Green-and-White, Cool Cub Jacob Cortez brought home the Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) title after recording an all-around performance of 22 points, two rebounds, three assists, and four steals. Big man Henry Agunnane backed up Cortez’s dazzling performance with a double-double output of 22 points and 10 rebounds on 11-for-13 shooting from the field, while King Archer Kevin Quiambao chipped in 17 points and five boards. 

Jake Figueroa and PJ Palacielo tried to will the Bulldogs to a victory with 17 and 13 markers, respectively, but the Sampaloc-based squad’s late-game efforts were not enough to steal the crown from the Green Archers. 

Late half redemption 

The DLSU Green Archers stormed onto the court with immense momentum from a massive win against the OLFU Phoenix in their semifinal matchup. The thriller opened up with a dominant three-pointer by Cortez, 3-0. The Bulldogs started to heat up with five minutes left to play, with shots going in around the perimeter, but Agunanne managed to convert back-to-back baskets, which was highlighted by a dunk to keep his team alive, 16-14. Despite building a sizable advantage early on in the opening quarter, the Sampaloc-based squad did not back down as Figueroa’s drive in the paint gave NU their first lead of the match, which caused La Salle to call for a much-needed timeout, 17-16. 

Coming off the break, La Salle immediately fought for a successful challenge, which handed them the possession. This gave way to the newly formed backcourt duo of Cortez and Kean Baclaan, who came up with a fastbreak play at the 3:18 mark, wherein Cortez knocked down another three, 21-16. Quiambao also contributed to the offensive scheme of the Green-and-White, swooshing in five straight points with just a minute left to play, 28-26, but the side of the Bulldogs bit back at these scoring attempts from the Taft-based squad as they ended the first frame with a two-point cushion, 30-28. 

In an attempt to regain the lead, the Green Archers switched up their lineup, subbing EJ Gollena and Lian Ramiro to create new team chemistry. The first five minutes of the second period showcased an exchange of baskets, with both teams going back and forth on the scoreboard, however, NU maintained the lead due to Steve Nash Enriquez and Patrick Yu’s shooting. The hardwood floor started to heat up for La Salle during crunch time with just 90 seconds left to play after Jonnel Policarpio scored on a layup, cutting down NU’s lead to two, 47-45. 

La Salle pressured the NU playmaking, which gave way to a swift steal by Cortez—finally tying the match at 47-all. After catching up to the Bulldogs and timeouts called from both teams with under three seconds left in the second quarter, Cortez launched another three-bomb, which ballooned DLSU’s lead to seven entering the halftime break, 55-48. 

Silencing the Bulldogs

Following an electrifying end to the first half, Cortez continued to light up the court with his hot shooting alongside Quiambao, igniting a 9-4 run to start the third canto, 64-52. As the Green-and-White’s matchup zone defense spelled trouble for the Bulldogs and forced several shots nearing the 24-second shot clock violation, the pace of NU’s offense slowed down immensely—only picking up buckets off second-chance points from Kenshin Padrones, 68-54. The Sampaloc-based team struggled to regain control on the court with the white shirts clogging the paint on one end and killing the Bulldogs with streaky perimeter shooting on the other. To conclude the frame, Jolo Manansala attacked the middle from the baseline to pop a righty floater over the outstretched hand of Policarpio, cutting NU’s deficit to 13, 73-60.

With DLSU pressuring the Blue-and-Gold to commit numerous miscues with their gritty man-to-man defense, the Green Archers sat comfortably in the driver’s seat in the early moments of the fourth period. Midway through the quarter, La Salle led by 12 after Agunanne went on a spin cycle against Mohamed Diassana on the low block, 82-70, but the Bulldogs slowly clawed their way back by knocking down clutch baskets—cutting La Salle’s advantage to six with two minutes remaining, 84-78. 

After successive timeouts from DLSU and NU, Enriquez drilled a catch-and-shoot triple from the wing to turn the match into a one-possession game, 84-81. After getting a stop on defense in the next possession, the Bulldogs had a shot at further trimming the lead as Manansala collected his own miss on a drive, but in a crucial defensive effort, Agunanne firmly swatted away the attempt for the white shirts to regain possession of the ball. The team from Sampaloc had one more chance to send the game into overtime in the dying seconds of the game, but Figueroa’s corner three attempt was way off target—cementing the Green Archers’ flawless run to the Pinoyliga title, 84-81. 

In the awarding ceremony after the game ended, Cortez and Quiambao earned their place among the Mythical Five for their consistent, jaw-dropping performances throughout the tournament’s third edition. Gilas Pilipinas mainstay Quiambao added another MVP trophy to his growing collection after his dominant Pinoyliga campaign, while Cortez tagged himself as La Salle’s point guard of the future by securing the Finals MVP award. 

The Scores:

DLSU 84 – Agunanne 22, Cortez 22, Quiambao 17, Policarpio 10, Pablo 5, Macalalag 4, Abadam 2, Baclaan 2, Austria 0, Dungo 0, Gollena 0, Ramiro 0, 

NU 81 – Figueroa 17, Palacielo 13, Dela Cruz 8, Enriquez 7, Manansala 7, Padrones 7, Diassana 6, Yu 6, Francisco 4, John 2, Lim 2, Gulapa 1, Santiago 1, Garcia 0, Tulabut 0

Quarter scores: 28-30, 55-48, 73-60, 84-81

Jaden Alberto

By Jaden Alberto

Tana Melgar

By Tana Melgar

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