FilOil: Green Archers squander 20-point advantage, bow down to Fighting Maroons who complete back-to-back title victories

The DLSU Green Archers were unable to replicate their winning ways in the FilOil EcoOil 17th Preseason Cup after falling to the back-to-back champion UP Fighting Maroons, 69-66, earlier tonight, June 12, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre.

In the valiant effort, Season MVP and Top 10 Player awardee Kevin Quiambao posted a double-double performance, scoring 14 points on an uncharacteristic 6-for-25 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds. Meanwhile, CJ Austria had an excellent game off the bench with 14 markers on 60-percent from the field. Apart from the pair, no other Green Archer posted more than seven points.

Leading the Fighting Maroons to their second league championship was star point guard JD Cagulangan who put up a balanced 13 points, five boards, and four assists. Gerry Abadiano was also a key piece in UP’s title win with his hot shooting in the third quarter, totaling his scoring effort to 12 markers. Additionally, Harold Alarcon and Kingsley Ududo both had nine points apiece, with the latter bringing down 11 rebounds for his team.

Attempt to dethrone

The showdown began with the common grit-and-grind defense by UP and bully ball by DLSU. And, like most games dominated by the Fighting Maroons, it was Cagulangan who was responsible for the Diliman-based squad’s strong start, leading La Salle 13-8. The star point guard scored eight of his team’s first 13 points in under seven minutes, with five of them coming from free throws.

On the other end, it was David Dungo who was the unsung hero for the Green-and-White in the first quarter to counter Cagulangan’s efforts. The rookie guard slashed his way to the basket for six quick markers, followed by Jonnel Policarpio’s free throws to cut the deficit to just three heading into the second period after an intense early defensive battle, 17-14. Overall, both teams locked horns and looked like equals in the paint area. However, UP’s consistent shooting was a glimpse of what was to come later in the match.

Heat check

As the buzzer sounded to begin the second quarter, DLSU looked like a much better team. La Salle’s defensive units were quick to make adjustments while their shooters found their touches. Major offensive errors in the opening period were covered up by key offensive rebounds and efficient transition defense in the succeeding quarter.

Among all Green Archers, Quiambao,  Austria, and Henry Agunanne took turns in dominating the offense from all parts of the hardwood. Austria had a pair of driving layups, Quiambao displayed hot shooting from the midrange, while Agunanne proved to be the stronger big man on some possessions with emphatic finishes and rejections. Following this scoring explosion, the trio spearheaded La Salle’s rally, with the lead eventually growing to 20 points.

At the half, Quiambao led the Taft-based squad with 10 markers, all of which came from inside the three-point line. Meanwhile, Cagulangan also had 10 points of his own, making it a battle of the stars of the two juggernaut teams. 

Maroon might

With the game swung heavily in the Green Archers’ favor, the Fighting Maroons came out of the locker room after the halftime break ready to vent their ire. Within two minutes of the third canto, the white shirts cooked up an electric 8-0 run capped off by a Francis Lopez two-hand reverse slam on a fastbreak to trim DLSU’s lead to 12 markers, 43-31. The Diliman-based squad upped the pressure by forcing several defensive stops and La Salle turnovers with their ironclad full court man-to-man pressure, leading to multiple offensive opportunities for UP. A Reyland Torres bomb near the logo at the two-minute mark cut the Green-and-White’s advantage to single digits, 48-41, and as UP tormented Policarpio and Quiambao by placing smaller guards to defend them, the Green-and-White were limited to a mere 10 points in the quarter. To end the frame, Abadiano snapped EJ Gollena’s ankles and swished a three, placing La Salle in a precarious position with their lead down to five, 53-48. 

During the winner-take-all final period, shifty guard Abadiano continued to light the court on fire, equalizing the match at 58-all after crossing up Jcee Macalalag for a jumper with five minutes left. La Salle then consistently had no answer for the Fighting Maroons’ no-switching defense that clamped the Green Archers’ primary scorers. At the 4:29 mark, a steal from Lopez saw him rise for a fastbreak right-hand hammer that wrapped up a 5-0 UP run for a 63-58 edge. Entering crunch time, consecutive layups from Lian Ramiro and Austria put them within one, 63-62, and with less than two minutes to go, a clutch triple from Quiambao stole the lead from the Fighting Maroons, 65-64. Although the Green-and-White were back in the driver’s seat, the game’s momentum belonged to the Diliman side as a Ududo tip-in and a Cagulangan layup placed the white shirts up again, 68-65. 

Following a timeout from DLSU, Ramiro drove hard to send himself to the charity stripe, splitting his free throws with 28.3 ticks remaining to cut their deficit to two, 68-66. Refusing to give in, the team from Taft found themselves with an opportunity to tie the score or take the lead by forcing UP’s fifth turnover of the match—which was a crucial stop as it paled in comparison to La Salle’s 16 turnovers. With the championship on the line, King Archer Quiambao fired a contested three-pointer in an attempt to take the lead but tragically failed to hit his mark. After a temporary flare of tempers from Austria and Torres that paused the match, Lopez was fouled and sent to the free throw line, icing the game in UP’s favor, 69-66. 

Despite unfortunately falling short of a FilOil Preseason Cup title for the second straight year, the Green Archers learned important lessons and will continue to tread through the pre-season with the ultimate goal of securing back-to-back UAAP championships. With only three months to go before the start of UAAP Season 87, the Green-and-White will look to recuperate and prepare themselves for an all-out title defense. 

The Scores:

DLSU 66 – Quiambao 14, Austria 14, Agunanne 7, Ramiro 7, Gollena 7, Dungo 6, Policarpio 4, Macalalag 3, Cortez 2, Marasigan 2, Abadam 0, Rubico 0

UP 69 – Cagulangan 13, Abadiano 12, Alarcon 9, Ududo 9, Lopez 8, Torculas 7, Torres 7, Felicilda 2, Alter 2, Stevens 0, Briones 0, Belmonte 0

Quarter Scores – 14-17, 43-23, 53-48, 66-69

Jaden Alberto

By Jaden Alberto

Gab Ortiz

By Gab Ortiz

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