UAAP: La Salle knocks out FEU, returns to the Final Four
The De La Salle University Green Archers have returned to the Final Four and they did so in dramatic fashion, defeating the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 69-66, to secure the last playoff via a knockout game for the fourth seed Wednesday at the UAAP Men’s Basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Archers trailed for three quarters, then outscored the Tams in the last quarter, 23-14, while holding FEU to just two field goals in the final 6:46.
Norbert Torres played a near-perfect game with 21 points, including 11 in the fourth period. Torres also secured eight offensive rebounds for a total of 13 boards. He scored efficiently on a 7 of 9 clip from the field and 7 of 8 from the free throw line.
"I just wanted to do what the coaches wanted me to do," said Norbert Torres. "They saw it in me the whole season, and they trusted me in this game."
"In the first half we were kind of tight," said Archers head coach Gee Abanilla. "We talked about it during halftime and told them we didn't see the La Salle team that usually plays for us. It all boiled down to defense, the fourth quarter was really crucial for us."
After the elimination rounds, DLSU and FEU tied NU with a 9-5 card. Host school NU took the third seed due to their superior quotient, leaving the Archers and Tams to battle it out for the final playoff berth.
Since the Final Four format was introduced, FEU has been in it the most number of times with 14 appearances, followed by Ateneo with 13 while La Salle has 12.
The Tamaraws have been in the Final Four for the past four years, while La Salle has missed two of the last three.
The Archers will face top-seeded Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles (12-2) on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
"It's going to be an exciting matchup," said Abanilla on Saturday's game. "We're clearly the underdogs and they're a really strong team, but I'm very happy with the way we've been performing and we're peaking at the right time."
In the payoff period, Norbert Torres dropped six points to ignite a 13-8 explosion for the Archers. Despite initial strong play from the Tamaraws, they wilted in the face of tenacious halfcourt defense from La Salle. While FEU was discombobulated on offense, Vosotros capped the run as he sent home a triple at the 4:15 mark to draw within one, 60-59.
With two and a half minutes to play, Norbert Torres tipped the ball in to give the Archers their first lead of the game. Moments later, he completed an and-one to give DLSU a 64-60 lead.
Thomas Torres seemed to ice the cake with 38 ticks remaining with an and-one in transition, but Romeo replied on the ensuing inbounds play with a three pointer, ending a six-minute drought. The Archers called timeout but coughed the ball up on the inbounds play, leading to a Garcia trey, 67-66, with 30 seconds to play.
FEU fouled Teng, and the rookie split at the line with 20 seconds to play, leaving the door open for the Tams. But in the ensuing possession, the Archers' pressure defense forced Mike Tolomia into a traveling violation with three seconds to play. La Salle's Vosotros was then fouled and split at the line, but it was enough as the Tams missed a long heave at the buzzer.
"We just refused to lose," said Abanilla. "FEU tried to pull away but we just hung tough."
"I didn't want it to be Josh [Webb] and Jovet [Mendoza]'s last game," added Norbert Torres.
Jeron Teng tallied 15 points, while Almond Vosotros added nine points, eight rebounds and three steals.
The Tamaraws were the aggressors early on, as they got second looks at the basket yet failed to convert them. While the Archers were sloppy on the offensive end, they managed to score on layups thanks to Jeron Teng and Thomas Torres. FEU stayed ahead thanks to a triple by Terrence Romeo, 7-6.
On offense, the Archers were stripped multiple times during repeated incursions in the shaded area. RR Garcia came off the bench for the Tams to stabilize his squad and get more players involved in the offense. As a result, five different Tamaraws scored from the field as they went on a 12-7 run in the last five minutes of the first, taking a 19-13 lead.
The Archers hit back in the second quarter as big men Jovet Mendoza and Norbert Torres barreled to the hoop for six straight points, knotting the game. FEU regained their bearings after an 8-2 run, including triples from Romeo and Gryann Mendoza, that gave them a 27-21 cushion halfway through the period.
In the last four minutes, La Salle continued to score, thanks to FEU's penalty situation, led by four points from Teng. However, they couldn't connect from the floor in the last 3:42 after a floater by Almond Vosotros. On the other end of the floor, Mark Bringas was a reliable presence at the post, scoring six of FEU's last eight points to stay ahead, 35-29.
After the break, Norbert Torres and Arnold Van Opstal were nearly unstoppable inside, highlighted by the latter's poster slam on Mark Bringas and Russel Escoto. The Tamaraws, for the most part, were limited to the perimeter. FEU's Mac Belo led them with five points from long distance, but the Archers closed the gap to four, 44-40, on a strong move inside by Van Opstal, with four minutes to play.
Just in the nick of time, Romeo and Garcia eluded the defense with an athletic layup, negating a pair of Van Opstal charities to bring the lead back up to seven, but neither team could build significant momentum and spent the rest of the quarter shooting from the line in the last three minutes. The Archers went 2 for 6, while FEU went 1 for 4. During their last possessions, Teng and Mark Bringas scored at the rim to end the period at 52-46.
Norbert Torres and Van Opstal combined for 14 of La Salle's 18 third quarter points.
The Archers enjoyed a tremendous rebounding advantage, 50-30. A 22-16 disparity on offensive boards led to more second-chance points for the Archers, 14-9.
FEU doomed themselves from beyond the arc, making only 7 of 25 tries. Overall, they made 27 of 70 attempts, or 38.6 percent. In contrast, La Salle took only 13 shots from deep and made two. In sum, they shot a 23 for 55 clip, or 41.8 percent.
Terrence Romeo led FEU with 13 points. Mark Bringas had a solid game off the bench with 12 points and four boards. Former MVP RR Garcia was limited to eight points on three of 14 shooting from the field. - AMD/RAF, GMA News
DLSU 69: N Torres 21, Teng 15, Vosotros 9, Van Opstal 8, T Torres 7, Mendoza 7, Andrada 2, Webb 0, Manguera 0, Tampus 0, Revilla 0
FEU 66: Romeo 13, M Bringas 12, Garcia 8, Hargrove 7, Mendoza 7, Pogoy 6, Belo 5, Escoto 4, Tolomia 2, A Bringas 2, Sentchu 0, Foronda 0, Cruz 0
Quarter scores: 13-19, 28-35, 46-52, 69-66
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