In a closely contested streaky game at the MOA Arena, the late rally by La Salle fell short, ultimately giving UP a 67-64 victory and leveling the Green Archers’ season record at 3-3.
The Green Archers struggled to find their offensive rhythm during the third quarter, scoring only three points, and the situation grew even more dire as the clock ticked down. It wasn’t until nearly five minutes into the final quarter that Joshua David finally made another field goal, ending the scoring drought. Still, the deficit they faced had already become a significant challenge.
A highlight moment occurred when Mike Phillips executed an impressive up-and-under jam right after David’s three-pointer, cutting UP’s lead to six points at 57-63. This stunning play stirred up the quiet green and white gallery, eagerly anticipating a comeback. Subsequent contributions, including a three-pointer by CJ Austria and a crucial free throw by Mark Nonoy, along with Kevin Quiambao’s patented midrange push shot, eventually tied the score at 63-all with just two minutes left on the clock, setting the stage for a thrilling finish.
However, that proved to be the last of La Salle’s arrows. In the closing moments, UP’s Gerry Abadiano made a clutch midrange pull-up, and Mike Philips countered with another point with a free throw, putting the score at 64-65.
And although La Salle managed to force a turnover from UP’s Reyland Torres, the free-falling Archers failed to convert the go-ahead basket with 15 seconds remaining.
The Green Archers displayed a strong start, shooting at a 50% accuracy rate in the first half and maintaining control of the game, leading 47-38 at halftime. Kevin Quiambao’s three-pointer early in the second half extended La Salle’s lead to 50-37, prompting the crowd to anticipate a potential blowout. However, UP had different plans and shifted their defensive strategy.
Defensively, the Maroons challenged La Salle’s 23% three-point shooting by allowing them to take outside shots while effectively defending the lanes and making intelligent defensive plays on back cuts. This strategic approach by UP coach Goldwyn Monteverde’s zone defense paid off, as the Green Archers struggled from beyond the arc, making only 6 of 31 attempts for a 19.4% shooting percentage. UP’s solid defensive strategy choked La Salle’s offense to submission.
The woes didn’t end with the shooting. After dominating the boards 31-20 in the first half, La Salle conceded 36 rebounds to UP in the final two quarters, highlighting a shift in momentum and control on the court. Not able to find the basket and losing the rebounding battle, La Salle didn’t make another field goal until the 5:31 mark of the final quarter, when Joshua David sank a three-pointer, underscoring their difficulties in regaining their offensive efficiency.
With this second consecutive loss, the Green Archers now find themselves tied for third place with Adamson and Ateneo, all with 3-3 records. La Salle’s next challenge is against the formidable UE Red Warriors, as they wrap up the first round of matches at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion on Saturday, providing them with an opportunity to regroup and refocus after a challenging game against UP.