DLSU Archers stand up to UP Maroons, for a winner-take-all-match
La Salle did so much hard work to return to the UAAP Finals, and the Green Archers — just three nights removed from being humiliated in the series opener — played like they didn’t want to be sorry footnotes of a Season 86 title sweep.
In fact, La Salle took its turn in dealing the University of the Philippines (UP) a bludgeoning of its own, 82-60, to set the stage for a winner-take-all match for the Season 86 title. And in doing that, it seems that the Green Archers are the ones who have some sort of momentum going into Wednesday.
“I guess they (Archers) really didn’t want this Finals to end right away. We just gave UP a good fight,” coach Topex Robinson said after his first Finals win carved out before 20,863 loud fans clad in maroon and green at Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.
Though the final Game 2 score seemed to mirror UP’s 97-67 win last Wednesday, it was not all smooth sailing for La Salle, which had to rally from an early 10-point deficit before slowly building up steam to reduce the margin to just 27-24 at the end of the first frame.
And there was no stopping the La Salle juggernaut from there, as Robinson had his deep bench delivering on both ends, a far departure from the way they played Game 1.
Shades of last season?
UP is trying to reclaim the title it lost to Ateneo last season, when the Maroons also won Game 1 but lost the next two.
From that torrid 12-2 opening salvo, the Maroons never looked the same the rest of the way with former Most Valuable Player (MVP) Malick Diouf, after scoring 10 points in the first period, held to just one free throw the rest of the way.
While they were knocking down the shots they needed to, the Archers denied the Maroons relentlessly as UP was held without a field goal for more than the first 11 minutes of the second quarter that signaled the breakaway.
Newly minted MVP Kevin Quiambao, who oddly played off the bench, had a much better performance compared to Game 1 with nine points and 13 rebounds, while graduating point guard Evan Nelle orchestrated the offense with 10 assists and 12 rebounds.
“We wanted to make sure that we’re gonna have at least a backup to our starters. Whatever happens, we have somebody who’s gonna come off the bench and provide for us. And KQ was ready for the challenge,” Robinson said.
“In the first game, I was really ineffective. So now I need to set aside my ego and become an off-ball player like what coach is telling me, and then whatever situation UP gives me, we just take advantage of it,” Quiambao said.
The Archers got a huge boost from Francis Escandor, who came into the game averaging just over five points but drilled the Maroons with 14, including three triples in the telling stretch.
Joshua David contributed four treys on the way to 12 points and CJ Austria, 11 points and five rebounds.
“They just had the opportunity (to play). What we discussed during the preparation for this Game 2 is when you have a chance to take the shot, you have to shoot it with confidence and those are the shots that they’ve been working on and we just have to give [them] the green light,” Robinson said.
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“But more than that, it’s really more of the way they defended the guards of UP. What worked for them is playing defense,” he added. INQ