Murdered at the third.
After keeping in stride with our crosstown rivals Ateneo in the first half, the Blue Eagles unleased a deadly 10-27 third quarter to deliver La Salle’s sixth loss in nine games, 54-68, at the Big Dome.
Tied at 29-all at halftime, Ateneo crashed out of the gates blazing by detonating a 18-3 bomb that started with a triple by Katipunan import Ange Kouame and ran away with the game 32-47 with three minutes left in quarter.
It was an ugly seven minutes of basketball watching a Green Archers offense stuck in reverse. Slow ball movement, countless consecutive turnovers and settling for ill-advised, tightly contested long bombs that quickly and easily translated into uncontested fastbreaks for the other side. And when the third quarter was history, so was the game with the green team staring a huge 17-point deficit, 39-56, a lead that they need to overhaul in 10 short minutes.
But you cannot overhaul 17 points in one quarter against a well-coached team like the Eagles.
Although La Salle managed to cut down the lead to 49-61 with a little over 4 minutes left, it was clear that the rally will end in futility.
The loss pushed the Green Archers down the standings with a 3-6 card going into the middle of the second round with five games to go.
Sorely missing their offensive anchor in Schonny Winston, the Green Archers’ offensive woes were magnified. The Taft squad cratered at 27.1% from the field and ran amuck with an atrocious 4-of-18 from the three-point zone for a 22.2% clip.
Offensive shortcoming was not the only story. La Salle got outhustled off the boards 43-49, and got the ball stolen 14 times while committing 20 turnovers.
The Green Archers will resume their hunt for that elusive Final Four slot on Thursday against the Adamson Falcons. A loss to the Falcons would deal a crushing blow to the dimming hopes of the Green Archers’ Final Four ambitions.