FEU Tamaraws def. DLSU Green Archers 68-61
Arvin Tolentino (13 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal)
Tolentino’s stats don’t tell the whole story. Going to the dug-out at the half with only two points and two boards, Tolentino was all business in the second half making eight in the critical 3rd when La Salle was trying to make a run. During the fourth quarter, he canned a trey with 3:16 left in the 4th quarter to snatch the lead for good at 58-56.
Tolentino also was a reliable offensive option and his high basketball IQ exemplified throughout the game. With most of the FEU offense going through Tolentino his ability to create his own shots and set up for his teammates made way for easy buckets for Kenneth Tuffin, Axel Inigo, and Wendell Comboy.
Kenneth Tuffin (11 points, 4 rebounds and 50% 3-point shooting clip)
Tuffin’s ability to knock down those timely 3s kept FEU afloat for most of the game especially that crucial triple with 5:06 remaining to put FEU on top 55-53. With no hesitation to mix it up, Tuffin’s grabbing those 50-50 balls created extra possessions for the Tamaraws as the 3rd year small forward grabbed 7 rebounds and collaborated with Inigo and Prince Orizu to make sure that every La Salle possession is a one-and-done.
Comboy – Parker – Inigo Defense
Knowing that a ton of touches will be on premiere La Salle guard Aljun Melecio, the Tamaraw guards stepped up defensively to clamp down deadshot from Taft. As a result, Melecio snapped a horrendous 1-of-7 from 3-point land and 4-of-8 from the field.
Using a combination of denying the ball and blitzing defense off screens, Melecio was virtually helpless in finding open spaces for his Js. And even when the Green Archers were finding ways to feed Melecio the ball, FEU’s excellent defense forced La Salle into desperate attempts late into the shot clock.
Leonard “double-double” Santillan (19 points, 10 rebounds, 57% FG%, 60% 3pt FG%)
Santi Santillan was a marked man. But it did not matter. Santillan’s now UAAP-wide known push shot kept La Salle in the mix for the majority of the match. With his long bombs now becoming deadlier, Santillan is now able to create his shots both inside and out with his length and consistent mid-range game.
- As FEU coach Olsen Racela placed it perfectly, “without (Ben) Mbala and Ricci Rivero, La Salle is easier to defend”. Gone are the Green Archer days of having to defend the full floor with threats from inside and outside. That is virtually the reason why DLSU found a hard time to score with the Melecio option locked. Forcing La Salle to tough shots from beyond the arc resulted into a 20.83 percent shooting clip only hitting 5 of their 24 attempts.
- The go-to guys of the Tamaraws came through when it mattered the most. Hubert Cani made 4 markers while Tolentino chipped in 3 in FEU’s crucial run in the last five minutes. For La Salle, the veterans fumbled in the crucial stages of the game with Andrei Caracut turning the ball over and Melecio clanking his attempts from 3-point country.
- La Salle offense became too slow and predictable. After the option of Melecio was shut down, the Archers were not able to find an alternative. A couple of low screens resulting in open perimeter snipers became the basic play which was read by FEU like a Post-it Note.
- La Salle’s guards were shooting blanks all afternoon. Jollo Go was 0-for-4 while Kib Montalbo was just as bad going 2-for-8. Encho Serrano’s first game was a dud despite his activity. For La Salle to contend, their offense will click when their outside game starts to work. A 20.83 percent clip from beyond is not going to get it done.