Despite already being guaranteed a place in the semi finals for the second time in a row, the De La Salle University Green Archers took no chances and defeated the struggling University of Sto. Tomas Growling Tigers, 69 – 64 , today at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The Archers end the elimination round at 10-4, its best finish since 2008. After finishing the first round in 5th place at 3-4, the team won 7 straight games to sweep the second round.
This game posed great significance to both squads. A win for De La Salle would mean that they will face the Far Eastern University Tamaraws for a playoff that will determine who will clinch the twice-to-beat advantage during the semi-finals, whilst a win for the Tigers will further improve their semis hopes.
Jeron Teng once again came up big for La Salle, pouring in 19 points with 11 rebounds. Teng has been criticized for his poor free throw shooting, but his improvement shone for the second game in a row as he drained 6 of his 7 attemps from the charity stripe. Norbert Torres added in 14 points and 13 rebounds. Almond Vosotros, on the other hand, broke through his poor performance against NU with a decent 11 point output coupled with two steals.
Karim Abdul posted well against Arnold Van Opstal, registering a double double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Aljon Mariano and Jeric Teng added in 16 and 10 points, respectively.
The game was tight from the get-go, with both squads showcasing their air tight defense in the first half. A 7 – 0 run by the Archers on the second quarter, however, proved to be the difference in the match.
La Salle took control of the game from there on and even lead by as much as 14 points at 48 – 34 after a quick jumper by Jason Perkins. UST, as expected, did not give up easily and started a run of their own, eventually cutting La Salle’s lead down to a single possession in the fourth canto at 59 – 57.
Juno Sauler has always said that mental toughness is the real battle from the start of the second round, and his words ringed through today as La Salle mentally muscled their way through a rattled UST squad, eventually beating them 69 – 64.
With the win, La Salle will now face FEU in a virtual best-of-three series whilst UST will face the Ateneo on September 18 for the right to face NU in the Final 4.
DLSU 69 – Teng 19, Torres N. 14, Vosotros 11, Perkins 7, Van Opstal 6, Revilla 6, Torres T. 3, Salem 3, Reyes 0, Montalbo 0, De La Paz 0
UST 64 – Abdul 18, Mariano 16, Teng 10, Bautista 6, Sheriff 5, Ferrer 5, Lo 2, Dacquioag 2, Pe 0, Faundo 0
15 – 13 ; 39 – 30 ; 53 – 45; 69 – 64