The DLSU Green Archers bowed out of the Final Four race in a shocking fashion as they succumbed to the FEU Tamaraws, 71-68. With this setback, it paved way for the defending champs NU Bulldogs to claim the fourth spot (without needing a do-or-die battle) and earn the right to face the UST Growling Tigers. Despite this game having no bearing to their standings, the Tamaraws made sure that they will enter the postseason with some momentum.
With their spectacular performance in the first three quarters, La Salle looked like they were poised for a do-or-die match against NU as FEU appeared to experiment with unusual lineups, going unusually deep into their bench throughout the game. They didn’t even play their top two players, Mike Tolomia and Mac Belo, for most of the second half, including the entire fourth quarter. But the Tamaraws seemed not to need them as their bench unleashed a gigantic comeback in the final canto and stole the lead from the Green Archers after Roger Pogoy buried two three-pointers. The Green Archers had a chance to tie or take the lead in many occasions in the closing stages, but just like many times this season, they failed to make timely shots which spelled their doom and ended their season in a disappointing fashion.
The Green Archers were actually able to limit FEU to just 38.7% eFG during the game, while shooting a high clip of 46.3%. But in the fourth quarter, FEU registered 60.5% eFG as compared to DLSU’s 35.3%. The Tamaraws capitalized on their size advantage, sporting an ORB of 38.2% while limiting La Salle to just 25%. This led FEU having 19 second chance points during the game. DLSU were able to limit FEU’s outside shots (well, for three quarters), hitting just 16%. But the three triples the Tamaraws converted in the fourth quarter were proven to be costly for the Green Archers.
Jeron Teng led the Green Archers with 20 points as he did almost all of the damage late, scoring 10 of the last 14 DLSU points. The much-improved sophomore Prince Rivero chipped in 16 points and nine rebounds. Aside from them, nobody else reached double digits for the Green Archers. On the other side, leading the balanced attack of FEU was Monbert Arong with 13 markers while Pogoy added 11 points, all in the fourth quarter.
This loss just sums up the kind of season La Salle have had this year. This year was filled with high and lows, highlighted by their inconsistency and shortcomings. Against practically FEU’s second unit for much of the game, the Green Archers still weren’t able to pounce on this opportunity. La Salle had a lot of games where it has blown double digit leads this season (this game, the second round games against UST, Ateneo and Adamson), just to show how inconsistent the Green Archers were this season.
This year’s shortcoming will hopefully be La Salle’s biggest motivation to perform better in the next season. Their core is still intact as they will not lose any player. Also, let us not forget Ben Mbala. This loss may hurt them, but this should come as a chip on their shoulder which should only make them stronger.