For a moment, it looked like the De La Salle Green Archers were about to follow the same script they used the last time they beat University of the East.
After trailing by 14 to the Red Warriors at the half, DLSU used a 17-7 advantage in the third quarter to get within four entering the fourth period. Not long after, DLSU took a 45-43 lead. A few minutes later, the Green Archers’ advantage was up to 10, 61-51.
But the unrelenting Red Warriors battled back, going on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to one, 61-60.
After UE tied the game at 63, Dan Alberto came up with the most crucial play of the ball game – a steal on Almond Vosotros, followed by an and-one play to put his club up three.
La Salle then failed to convert a basket and was forced to foul Roi Sumang, who split his charities to make the count 67-63. Vosotros hit a 3-ball to breathe some life back to his team, but the Red Warriors held on to win their for the fifth time in their last six games and improve to 8-5.
DLSU, on the other hand, falls to 9-4 and suffered their third loss this season after building a double-digit lead.
Jeron Teng led the team with 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists, while Vosotros put up 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
Julian Sargent had 10 markers, while Norbert Torres pitched in 7. Rookie Prince Rivero contributed 7 points as well, while Kim Montalbo had 6.
Big men Arnold Van Opstal and Jason Perkins combined for 2 points and 10 rebounds.
As a team, La Salle shot 40% from the field but committed 30 turnovers that led to 24 UE points.
La Salle will face NU next on Saturday in their most crucial matchup of the season. A victory would give DLSU a chance for a twice-to-beat seed, as they will face the loser of Ateneo vs. FEU, which takes place prior to their duel with the Bulldogs, for the second seed in the standings.
A loss to National University would put DLSU at risk of having to participate in a playoff for the fourth seed against UE, assuming the Red Warriors beat UST next Tuesday and NU beats the Growling Tigers later this afternoon.
UE (68) – Galanza 21, Sumang 14, Javier 8, Alberto 6, Jumao-as 6, Mammie 4, Arafat 3, Varilla 2, De Leon 2, Palma 2, Guiang 0, Olayon 0.
DLSU (66) – Teng 23, Vosotros 11, Sargent 10, N. Torres 7, Rivero 7, Montalbo 6, Van Opstal 2, Perkins 0, Andrada 0.
Quarterscores: 15-13; 36-22; 43-39; 68-66.