Up by 13 with 2:36 left, up by 12 with under two minutes to go in the game, there is no way La Salle will lose this one, right?! The boys from Morayta pulled off an amazing come from behind win as the FEU Tamaraws defeated the De La Salle Green Archers 83-79 in overtime to remain undefeated with a 4-0 mark. La Salle, which could have had a share of first place, fell down to 2-2. FEU started the game strong, leading 8-2 then 14-6 but La Salle, thanks to 13 first quarter points from Jeron Teng, rallied quickly and ended the first quarter on top, 21-17. DLSU led by as many as nine points during the second quarter but FEU rallied and took a slim halftime lead of 35-34. It was a nip-and-tuck third quarter that ended 58-54 lead for La Salle, setting up a dramatic fourth quarter. For sure, with La Salle up by 12 with just under two minutes in the fourth quarter, a lot of Lasallians already tweeted statements such as “What a dominant win by DLSU over a strong FEU squad! 3 in a row! We are tied for number 1” and things like that. But FEU made a furious fourth quarter run which left the La Salle gallery stunned in disbelief. It is easy to complain. It is easy to blame the referees, easy to whine about non-calls, bad calls, flops and traveling violations that were not called. But the bottom line is, up by 12 with under two minutes remaining, we shot ourselves in the foot, and now FEU just separated themselves from the rest of the pack, at least for now, while DLSU is in the middle of things – not a comfortable place in a deep league with parity.
Reviewing the keys to the game
Limit Terrence Romeo
A huge X mark! I said that I would be fine if Romeo can score 16 points but only dish out two assists and grab only three rebounds but he exploded for 25 points, five assists and four rebounds. It was not a near triple-double performance but still very good statline for the guy with the best hair in all of the UAAP. Though he struggled with his three point shooting, making only 2/12 rainbow shots, he made up for it by shooting 7/14 in the two point region for a high 50% and he was perfect from the line with a 5/5 shooting from the charity stripe. Romeo is an MVP candidate and he is playing like an MVP.
AVO needs to be consistent
A huge check mark! I said I would be happy with a 12 point, seven rebound performance from Arnold Van Opstal and I did not expect another 18 points and eight rebounds game from him just like the last time against Ateneo. So I was pleasantly surprise that Arnold Van Awesome exploded for 20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. AVO proved that his huge game against Ateneo was no fluke, that he can have a good game against taller defenders. If AVO can be consistent, DLSU can go far in this tournament.
Jeron Teng needs a breakout game
A check mark, and yes, that was no typo. Jeron Teng scored 25 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, as he once again played the power forward position during a good portion of the game. He also dished out four assists, showing to everyone that he is a willing passer.
Do I need to talk about this one? La Salle shot a horrible 13/26 from the field for only 50%. And Jeron Teng shot a miserable 3/11 from the foul line. So. There.
Double-double performances in points and rebounding for Jeron Teng (25 and 15), AVO (20 and 11) and rookie sensation Jason Perkins (10 and 12)! La Salle also shot a decent 8/26 from the 3-point region. De La Paz contributed all his points from the three-point region, making three triples in eight attempts. I am so impressed with AVO. He improved a lot, especially his footwork. And I love the way he takes his free throws. A nice confident stroke and the consistent routine of combing his hair, he shot 8/9 from the line. He is our best free throw shooter. AVO can be the most dominant big man in the UAAP and his consistency will be needed if La Salle wants to go back to the Final Four.
FREE THROWS! No further explanation needed. Also, DLSU needs to improve its time management. Up by 12 with just two minutes to go, there is simply no excuse for blowing that game. DLSU needs to learn from these mistakes, and learn quickly. Norbert Torres also needs to step up. He did not score on this game and he only took one field goal attempt. AVO might be dominating but DLSU still needs The Bear to contribute. Also, even though they did a good job quarterbacking for the Archers, the two point guards who shared the duties, Thomas Torres and LA Revilla, only scored a combined seven points. I know that they can score a lot more than that.
Next stop for DLSU is a hungry UE squad this Saturday. UE is now at 1-3 and they are desperate for a win to keep up in the standings so La Salle is up for another close battle. Coach Sauler is comfortable with his eight-man rotation, as guys such as Gabby Reyes, Oda Tampus, Robert Bollick and Kib Montalbo only played for a few seconds in the second quarter and in the dying seconds of overtime, and their roles are just to foul. Sauler is sticking with Thomas Torres and LA Revilla alternating in the point, Luigi De La Paz backing up Almond Vosotros for the two spot and Jeron Teng, Jason Perkins, Arnold Van Opstal and Norbert Torres playing the front court positions. For the sake of the La Salle faithful, I hope this shorter rotation will work in the long run. And to end my post-game, FREE THROWS.