The DLSU Green Archers showed that they can perform when it matters in the endgame by shackling Ateneo’s offense for four full minutes in the final quarter to run away with a UAAP win 83-78 in this memorable afternoon at the Big Dome. Schonny Winston delivered the goods from the second quarter onwards, and proved that he can be the closer that the greens have always needed, a role no one had previously stepped into when they needed someone to take charge.
With the game all tied at 72, La Salle made one decisive push behind their signature pressure defense, and forced Ateneo into turnovers leading to transition baskets en route to a game-deciding 7-1 tear in the final five minutes of the game. Evan Nelle started the decisive run with a fastbreak “bitin” shot off Ateneo’s Paul Garcia followed by two Winston free throws and a nasty Motor Mike Phillips putback slam that pushed the lead to 77-71 with 4:58 left.
At this point, the tide started to favor the greens, as the usual Ateneo’s steady offense struggled to get any clean looks. Under tremendous pressure and unable to generate any decent scoring options, the Blue Eagles uncharacteristically lapsed into turnovers, and La Salle pounced and took full advantage of this momentary blue discombobulation.
A Winston midrange pull up plus his fallaway shot down the left baseline pushed the hungry Green Archers to 81-76 with 1:19 left.
A couple of subsequent empty green possessions gave a puncher’s chance for a blue comeback. Ateneo rookie Kyle Balungay drove for two to cut the lead to a single possession, 81-78, and a wide-open three-point miss from Quiambao with less than a minute left gave them one last play to force overtime.
But the green defense proved up to the challenge, and rattled the usual accurate Fortsky Padrigao into missing his 14th triple, which Nelle pulled down, was fouled, and iced the game with two free throws with seven seconds left.
It was the first win of DLSU since November 28, 2017 when Ben Mbala was still dunking over the blue shirts.
The Katipunan squad came out strong in the first quarter after Mike Philips quickly picked up his second foul in the first two minutes. With Motor Mike forced to sit the majority of the first half, the Ateneo bigs led by veteran import Ange Kouame dominated the paint and abused the DLSU interior defense and outscored La Salle 17-0 on second chance points.
Before the end of the first quarter, Ateneo had racked up 13 unanswered points to take a 18-28 lead to end the quarter.
The Green Archers, despite missing their imposing big man, responded with a 13-0 roll at the start of the second canto anchored by second string Archers. Rookies Raven Cortez and EJ Abadam torched the surprised Ateneo defense to turn that 10-point deficit into a 31-28 lead in just three minutes.
Even in the face of an answer from Ateneo and a one-point half time deficit, one thing became clear, the Green Archers wanted this win more than the Eagles.
The Green Archers made another strong 11-4 push at the end of the third to take the lead 64-62 before turning up the intensity in the final 10 minutes.
Winston and Nelle paced the Archers with 25 and 10 points respectively while Mike Phillips topped the rebounding tally with 11 boards. La Salle shot better as a team with 44.1% and hitting 38.2% from outside of the three-point line.
Surprise contributions from Cortez and Abadam who finished with 8 and 7 points respectively was a BIG boost for a Green Archers squad desperately seeking bench depth. Abadam had a team-high +13 in his time on the floor.
On the defensive end, the swarming green pressure D limited Ateneo to only 32.6% from the field while limiting the usually sharpshooting blue gunners to a paltry 21.6% from behind the arc.
ANIMO LA SALLE!!! BEAT ATENEO!!! AGAIN!!!