MANILA, Philippines - The DLSU Green Archers avoided a second consecutive late-game collapse, beating the FEU Tamaraws, 94-89, on Wednesday, June 4, at the San Juan Arena.
It was DLSU's fourth straight win against the Tams dating back to last UAAP season. Furthermore, their triumph earns them a date with the Southwestern University Cobras on Friday in the FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup semifinals.
The winning side was led by Thomas Torres, who put up 23 points and shot 7-of-11 from downtown and was returning from a scratch on his forehead which he got thanks to an elbow during practice.
"Personally, I was really struggling kasi matagal ako nawala," said Torres after the contest. "My teammates were there [for me], my coaches were there."
Coach Juno, meanwhile, said that the team needs to still figure out how to close out opponents after another near collapse. He also said that "Southwestern is a tough opponent."
Arnold Van Opstal also spearheaded the winning side, putting up 16 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists, while Jeron Teng contributed 13 markers and six boards.
Marc Belo and Mike Tolomia guided the Tamaraws, who were unbeaten prior to today, with 22 and 18 points, respectively.
Torres started to heat up in the third quarter, nailing three tripes in the first four minutes. Simultaneously, Tolomia also began to score buckets, putting up seven quick points. However, La Salle managed to get scoring from different sources, while FEU could't find anyone else besides its leader to produce.
Halfway through the third, the Green Archers extended their lead to 10, 66-56.
The Tamaraws wouldn't go away easily, as two straight shots from Tolomia got them within six, 62-56. However, Torres had an answer, producing another tandem of 3-balls to extend the threshold to 12.
Entering the game's deciding period, La Salle had a nine-point breathing room.
Similar to their game against UPHSD, turnovers started to harm La Salle again, as their opponents today managed to trim the lead to three, 83-80, following a jumper by Anthony Hargrove, who finished with 15 markers.
With a little over three minutes to go and DLSU in need to stop the bleeding, another 3-ball by Torres extended his side's leeway to six. However, Belo earned a trip to the line on the next play, making the count 86-82.
After Norbert Torres missed two critical FTs, Teng was unable to convert on an open floater. Not long after, Tolomia hit a step-back three to help FEU regain the lead, 87-86.
After FEU forced Perkins into taking a tough jumper, the Tams were unable to get the rebound, which led to an open AVO layup. Tolomia tried to counter but missed his step-back, forcing the team to send Van Opstal to the free throw line, where he made two charities, 90-87, with 27 seconds left.
Tolomia would score again to keep the game within arms reach, but the Archers sealed the contest at the line.
La Salle outrebounded FEU, 45-38, but gave up 19 turnover points to their opponents. The winning team also got 23 combined points from Jason Perkins and Almond Vostros.
During the post game media session, Torres also said that his club can't get too overconfident.
"Hindi dapat lumaki ulo namin."
(We have to keep our egos in check.)
Coach Juno Sauler opted to go for a new look today, inserting Yutien Andrada and Kib Montalbo in the starting lineup. The Tamaraws responded by double-teaming La Salle's perimeter ball handlers early, which backfired thanks to Jeron's off-ball cuts.
Four minutes into the contest, La Salle had an early 6-4 advantage.
The Green Archers did a good job of limiting FEU's offense to mostly isolations while keeping Tolomia scoreless as well. However, the Tams managed to hit some tough jumpers and take advantage of offensive rebounds, tying with DLSU at 12-all with three minutes left in the first.
After 12 minutes of action, DLSU was on top by one, thanks to a midrange J by Perkins.
A couple of quick conversions by Perkins to start the second quarter gave his squad a five-point lead, 20-15. But FEU wouldn't budge, as they tied the contest momentarily.
La Salle would then go on an 8-0 run, thanks to a couple of threes from Thomas Torres and Julian Sargent and a nifty move by rookie Prince Rivero. However, the Tamaraws' first quarter hero, Belo, scored six straight points to keep his team in the contest.
With a little over four minutes to go in the first half. La Salle's lead was down to two, 34-32.
Offense remained the theme of the second quarter, as both clubs exchanged buckets on consecutive possessions. With under two minutes to go, Tolomia finally got into the scoring action, nailing a three to cut the opposition's lead, 42-41.
Nevertheless, FEU couldn't find an answer for Van Opstal, who had 10 points in the second canto. DLSU went on another late run, taking a 49-43 lead entering the half.
DLSU: Torres 23, Van Opstal 16, Teng 13, Perkins 13, Vosotros 10, Rivero 6, Torres 4, Andrada 4, Sargent 3, Montalbo 2, Salem 0
FEU: Tolomia 22, Belo 18, Hargrove 15, Escoto 10, Pogoy 7, Inigo 4, Cruz 4, Jose 3, Tamsi 2, Escoto 2, David 2, Delfinado 0, Dennison 0, Ugsang 0
Quarter Scores: 16-15, 49-43, 78-69, 94-89