For a time it seemed as if the teams had been hopelessly stuck in a tedious and repetitive script: Jeron Teng, Almond Vosotros, and the Green Archers would get off to a blistering start and would jump into an early lead, and then Bobby Ray Parks and the NU Bulldogs would decide to make things more interesting and mount a rally to tie things up.
In the game’s first four stanzas and first extra session, it seemed that the backbreaking routine would hold. La Salle began the second overtime with two three-point bombs, but the Bulldogs, remaining true to their moniker, doggedly mounted another comeback to draw within a basket of La Salle.
And had it not been for a late charity by Vosotros, the game would have gone to a third overtime.
With his team up by three, 86-83, and a little over eight seconds left on the clock, Vosotros was able to nail the first of his two freebies, giving La Salle a two-possession lead. And that lone free throw would make all the difference for the Archers.
Bulldog Ray-Ray Parks made a three-pointer with barely a second left on the clock, but by then the Archers were already celebrating their fourth win of the season, as they were able to withstand the Bulldogs and Parks’ 35 points, 87-86, and end the first round with a second straight victory that allowed them to finish with a 4-3 win-loss record and forge a tie with their victims for the fourth place in the standings.
“We’re very happy that we were finally able to beat a seeded team and that we are in the middle of the pack [in the standings], although it was sad that we lost another player [LA Revilla],” said La Salle head coach Gee Abanilla, referring to Archers team captain LA Revilla, who reinjured his ankle late in the first overtime and did not return to the game. Revilla’s usual minutes were again distributed to La Salle’s rookie point guards, with Thomas Torres getting 21 next to Revilla’s 26.
After establishing several double-digit leads in the first and third cantos, the Bulldogs were able to hold the Archers to 10 points in the fourth quarter, tying the game on a basket by Troy Rosario from a dish by Parks. And it would not be the last time that the game would be tied, as the teams battled for another ten minutes before the winner could be decided.
It certainly helped that Jeron Teng decided that this game would be his breakout game for the season. His final statline: 35 points on a 14-for-24 shooting clip, including four three-pointers, six rebounds, and two assists. Teng is the first Archer to break the 30-point barrier since Joseph Yeo managed the feat in 2003.
“I really wasn’t looking to score, but then LA [Revilla] was unable to attend practice for an entire week [due to his injury], and we wanted to help the team. May halong swerte na rin,” says a beaming Teng. Vosotros, meanwhile, finished with 18 points, which is spiked by four three-pointers in what is his finest performance so far this season. “This season, feel ko na di ako masyado nakakatulong sa team, pero binalik ng coaches ko yung confidence ko,” said the Albay native Vosotros, who also had four rebounds and three assists.
Backstopping Parks’ equally amazing offensive performance was Rosario, who finished with 14 points, and Emmanuel Mbe, who wound up with 12 for the Bulldogs, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.
On Free Throw Shooting: “Free throw shooting has been one of our problems since the start of the season, but we do devote a lot of time to it during our practices, and I think that it’s really a mental thing, since we make most of our free throws in practice,” says Abanilla when asked about the team’s recent free throw shooting woes. “Kaya nga we keep telling the boys that they should control their minds during the game, instead of their minds controlling them.”
Notes: Since 2009, the Green Archers have ended the first round with a 4-3 win-loss slate; other players who have scored at least 30 points in recent years are Ken Bono of the Adamson Falcons, Rabeh Al-Hussaini of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, and the reigning MVP Parks; the last time that La Salle won a double overtime game was in July 2009, when they beat UST, 101-92, behind 21 points from former Archer and current Tamaraw Arvie Bringas;
La Salle-87– Teng 35, Vosotros-18, Andrada-8, Van Opstal-7, Torres, N.-6, Torres, T.-5, Mendoza-4, Revilla-3, Manguera-1, Gotladera-0, Tallo-0, Webb-0
NU-86– Parks-35, Rosario-14, Mbe-12, Javillonar-6, Rono-5, Alolino-4, Villamor-3, Khobuntin-3, Singh-2, De Guzman-2, Labing-Isa-0, Betayene-0
Quarterscores: 25-14, 42-37, 59-52, 69-69, 79-79, 87-86