DLSU Green Archers def. UE Red Warriors 79-59
Encho Serrano (18 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists and +20)
At the start of the season, it was evident that Serrano was bound to break into the La Salle rotation and contribute significantly when the defensive spotlight was not on him. With the UE defense busy hounding Aljun Melecio and plugging defensive holes down low, the former juniors standout torched the UE defense on all fronts. During the critical 3rd when UE made their move to seize the lead by cutting the once mighty Archers lead to only 3, 48-45, Serrano checked back in, immediately drained a jumper and followed it up with a triple three plays later to nudge La Salle back to a double-digit lead 58-46.
Andrei Caracut (16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 offensive rebounds, 2 assists and +11)
From being picked on for not yet stepping up, finally a solid game for the former Rookie of the Year. The stretched blitzing defense of UE seemed to play into the style of Caracut with his ability to catch-and-shoot and the skills to break down the interior defense for his slash. Finally, a breakout game for the former San Beda Red Cub. Can he build off of this? The Taft nation surely hopes so.
Santi Santillan (13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and +15)
Once publicly declared by Ateneo Coach Tab Baldwin as “fast becoming my favorite player”, Santillan worked his way to a stellar afternoon with his usual kamikaze dash towards those loose balls. With his relative height advantage against the FSA-less UE Red Warriors, Santillan’s dominance inside the paint resulted into a combined great performance with Justin Baltazar. And his close-outs on Pasaol became the force that prevented the UE scoring machine to get into a zone.
Alvin Pasaol (22 points, 17 BIG rebounds)
That double-double isn’t the burger Pasaol ordered after the game. It is real. His willingness to mix it up inside the paint plus his ultra-reliable pull-up J were the consistent components to Pasaol’s stellar game in his efforts to put UE on his shoulders and carry them to a W. But one guy can really just do so much.
- UE came into the game with a single agenda, stop Aljun Melecio. That worked to a certain angle as Melecio was held down to an 8-point output, way below his season average. But by blitzing Melecio and double-teaming the wily guard 30 feet from the basket became the structural weak spot in the UE defense. Once ball movement reached the low post, it was frequently a 3-on-2 mismatch that Santillan and Baltazar had a heyday taking advantage of. La Salle easily decoded this Red Warriors defense and ripped the game apart taking huge leads in the second and third quarters.
- The Green Archers took full advantage of the shallow bench of UE by chasing them all over the court with a 2-2-1 press as early as the first quarter. And when the battalion of La Salle guards tired out the starters from Recto, the offensive efficiency suffered immediately. Pasaol, Manalang and Varilla were the more reliable scorers on the UE front and once they hit the bench, the UE offense hits a wall. The DLSU bench outscored the UE second stringers 40-13.
- UE’s lack of import and a dominant local big was considered in their game plan. To solve it, UE attempted a ton of catch-and-shoot perimeter Js. Today, UE’s long bombs did not find its’ mark finishing the game making only 3-of-26 for a 11.54% clip.
- If there is a time for a hero to emerge from the UE core, the time to come out is now. Pasaol’s 22 points was only supported by Christopher Conner’s 12 while the other red options fired blanks. Varilla went on 3-out-of-10 from the field while the usual sidekick of Pasaol, Philip Manalang could not create and finished with only 2 points for the entire game. UE won’t be winning any games with afternoons like this.