by Neal Tieng
The DLSU Green Archers ruled the fourth with tenacious and pestering defense while relying on the veterans, as the Green Archers snatched win #3 by routing the FEU Tamaraws 75-65 today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The fourth quarter saw a frantic carousel of lead changes and scoring blitzes. After seeing their 8-point third quarter lead shrunk to 62-61 through a series of bad offensive execution compounded by a series of defensive lapses, veteran coach Derrick Pumaren called time-out at the seven-minute mark of the fourth to steady the boys.
Calm down they did. And when the chips are down, stars rose to the occasion on the big stage.
Balti Baltazar responded to Pumaren’s call and quickly delivered a basket from the low block,then snatched an offensive board on the next offensive play, fed Kurt Lojera in the wings who swished home a triple to stretch the lead to six, 67-61 with 3:52 to go.
Baltazar and Lojera finished off any remaining FEU comeback hope by collaborating on a six point burst that pushed the game out of reach at the last two-minute mark with La Salle enjoying their biggest lead, 73-61.
Baltazar led the green and white parade with his third double-double for the season with 20 points, 11 rebounds, while sparkplug Mark Nonoy finished with 17 points and Lojera chipped in 10.
Defense Bannered the Green and White
Michael Philips made the most out of the minutes opened up by the foul trouble of Bright Nwankwo, and showcased his defensive tenacity by shutting down FEU import Emman Ojoula. After scattering 11 points at the half, Ojoula became the focal point of Coach Pumaren’s halftime adjustments, and Michael Philips effectively shut down the FEU behemoth, limiting him to just 2 after the halftime break.
Low-post defense was not the only impressive defensive ploy of DLSU. Former Gilas mainstay RJ Abarientos, who normed 17.5 points per game in their first two games was held to only 9 by the swarming Taft defense. Continuous switches and quick close outs on driving lanes limited the shifty Abarientos the entire afternoon.
La Salle’s Best Game From Deep
Against NU and UE, La Salle went for the higher percentage around-the-rim baskets. Perhaps UE being import-less and NU’s tight perimeter defense directed the Archers to maximize both the midrange and the paint. After going 2 of 14 from three during the UE game, the Archers found their range with Mark Nonoy, CJ Austria and Baltazar sinking the long-range bombs and combined to an impressive 43.5% clip.
Balti Baltazar – 20 points, 11 rebounds, 53.8 FG%
Add the impressive stats to those plays those the intangibles not found in the numbers, Balti Baltazar played a steady 31 minutes and led his Green Archers to this huge win against FEU. From timely close-outs and hustle on 50-50 balls, Baltazar’s control of the game negated every FEU comeback with his superb shot selection and help defense.
Michael Philips – PLUS 22 and limiting Ojuola to two points in the second half
Mark Nonoy – 17 points, 66.7% FG%, 62.5 3pt percentage and one nasty triple from the logo
Proving to be the x-factor in this season’s campaign, Nonoy’s timely triples and kamikaze chase down defense on FEU guards made the Tamaraws miss even the easy shots. The Season 82 rookie of the year kept La Salle afloat in the critical curve of the second quarter when FEU made an aggressive run to control the game. Nonoy carried La Salle in the first half with 12 points.
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