In the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Basketball Tournament on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum, La Salle battled back from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit against University of Santo Tomas, 77-72, to keep its Final Four chances alive.
With 25 points, including the game-winning free throws in the final 19.8 seconds that increased the advantage to seven, 77-70, Evan Nelle kept the Green Archers’ hopes of making it to the playoffs as the No. 4 seed alive.
Now that Adamson and rival Ateneo are tied at 7-7 (win-loss), La Salle finds itself in the peculiar position of hoping that Ateneo defeats Adamson in the final game of the eliminations to create a playoff for the final spot in the semifinals.
In the final 8:26 of the game, the Green Archers overcame a 69-60 deficit and frustrated the Growling Tigers by limiting them to just one field goal while going on a 17-3 run to end the game.
In place of Michael Phillips and Kevin Quiambao, Raven Cortez contributed with 13 points and four rebounds.
Coach Derrick Pumaren said, he is really pleased of the lads. they’ve been missing people, but they’ve been playing excellent basketball in spite of things that are happening to their team. The coach says they’re still fighting and hoping that good things will happen for them.
Ben Phillips contributed eight points, six rebounds, and four assists; Mark Nonoy contributed 10 points, six assists, and four boards; and JC Macalalag contributed six points and six boards, including the baseline jumper that broke the 69-all tie with 1:50 remaining.
Pumaren acknowledged that this season has been difficult for them. He still believes, God has other plans for the team.
Although for him, the team should just keep on playing and do their part.
It’s a letdown to see UST’s season come to an end as they missed another excellent opportunity to win two games and suffered their 13th straight loss, finishing last in the standings.
Royce Mantua scored 17 points and grabbed five boards on 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, but the Espana team’s lone three-pointer of the contest came early in the fourth quarter.
Richi Calimag contributed 10 points, seven rebounds, and two assists, Nic Cabanero contributed 16 points, five boards, and four assists, Adama Faye contributed 9 points, 12 boards, and five blocks.
LA SALLE 77 – Nelle 25, Cortez 13, Nonoy 10, B. Phillips 8, Macalalag 6, Austria 5, Estacio 3, Abadam 2, Buensalida 2, Manuel 2, Nwankwo 1, Winston 0.
UST 72 – Mantua 17, Cabanero 16, Calimag 10, Faye 9, Pangilinan 5, Manalang 4, Laure 4, Manaytay 4, Lazarte 3, Duremdes 0, Garing 0, Escobido 0.