From title-contenders to a .500 team. Welcome to reality.
The DLSU Green Archers looked like they would cruise to a comfortable win when they led by 9 in the 3rd quarter, but were not able to close out in the fourth and lost to the surprising NU Bulldogs 76-80 at the Mall of Asia Arena. The loss dropped the Archers to 3-3 in the standings with one game to go in the first round.
It wasn’t pretty. NU kept in step, and after La Salle’s top gunner Schonny Winston got tagged for his fifth and final foul at the 4:17 mark with the score at 69-71, everything went sideways. A three-point miss from Captain Joaqui Manuel and an Evan Nelle travelling violation opened the gates for a 6-0 NU run and the ‘Dogs built a 71-79 lead with 2:22 left to play.
With the window to victory slowly ticking down to the final seconds, the Green Archers went for one final push with Nelle and super rookie Kevin Quiambao teaming up for a desperate 5-0 blast that sliced the lead to a single possession 76-79 with a minute to go.
But this was when it all came crashing down. Crunch time. Unfortunately they couldn’t get it done. Even when gifted with two chances to equalize, Quiambao could not snap the net in his final corner trey attempt with five ticks left.
It was another painful loss for a young La Salle team that has yet to master the art of closing. To have any chance at the title, the team must be able to close out a game after leading with nine points and looking to be in control for most of the game.
When it mattered, they couldn’t get it done, and that doesn’t look promising for the now middle-of-the-pack Archers who shot only 27% in the deciding quarter and went 1-of-10 from 3-point distance. Champs sprint, not sputter to the finish line.
In stark contrast, National U proved to be more patient and pragmatic and took most of their shots inside the paint to finish the quarter with a 50% clip. In simplest terms, NU showed the Archers how it should be done.
NU import Omar John and John Lloyd Clemente led the NU crashing of the boards by outhustling the green team 43-50 while effectively boxing out the usually high octane rebounder Motor Mike Phillips and limited him to only six rebounds the entire game.
Quiambao and Michael Phillips led all Archers with 15 points each and Nelle added 14 while Winston had an “off” day with “only” 12 points.
The 3-3 Green Archers will try to get over .500 in their match against the 2-4 Adamson Falcons this weekend. It’s still do-able, but now the Archers will really have to answer the question about who our closer players will be.
ANIMO LA SALLE!