Before we even got the season rolling (and UP losing by a mile to open the whole shebang), we had a preview of sorts of what to expect and what would be the keys to the game for both De La Salle University and Far Eastern University. We talked about rebounding, shooting, and the matchups. We also threw in some X-factors along the way. So, let’s dissect, to say the least, how that game went on with regards to our three points.
The Archers once again dominated on the boards. This is to be expected as they have the biggest frontline out there in the UAAP. Jason Perkins led Gang Green with 11 glass cleaners en route to a team total of 44. Arnold Van Opstal and Norbert Torres did their fair share as well, grabbing nine and seven respectively.
The two La Sallian behemoths also combined for 10 offensive rebounds. Those are huge 10 extra possessions which, if converted, could’ve won the game for the Taft-based squad. For the Tamaraws, no one hauled in more than five rebounds, which is equivalent to AVO’s offensive boards for the game. They managed to snare 33 but still won. And that is all thanks to…
We could not stress it enough. This is one aspect where you can just hang in there with DLSU before going for that killer run late in the game. The Tams shot a blistering 45.3 percent (this is already high for a college game overall) compared to a paltry, and should we say, just about their Season 76 average, 36.8 percent effort from the Green Archers. In the three-point shooting department, FEU once agains shot great, making roughly 40 percent of their attempts. La Salle? They shot themselves out of it by sinking only 29.2 percent, no thanks to Thomas Torres’ 1-for-6 effort from downtown. Mike Tolomia waxed hot just in time as he buried three crippling triples in the pay-off period to hold the Archers at bay.
Mac Belo had every defender’s number in the first half as he soldiered on for FEU. He took the rookies to school and was just lights out en route to a 20-point, 4-rebound night in a blistering 7-of-13 performance. Tolomia struggled early on to take advantage of his size against Torres and Vosotros before exploding in the second half for 20 of his 23 markers that night on 8-of-18 shooting overall. AVO and Norbert Torres, not to mention Jason Perkins, had trouble early on when FEU was doing hard doubles from the weak side. The bigs failed to pinpoint the cutters who picked off the lanes opened up by the help defense. That led to a slow downfall by the Archers when they couldn’t capitalize that much when FEU switched to single coverage when Anthony Hargrove picked up his third foul.
It was supposed to be Vosotros’ day. The senior guard had a surprise 6-of-13 day from the field spiked by three triples for 18 points, which were the most for a La Salle player. But the team couldn’t have anticipated Mike Tolomia going nuclear on them in the fourth. Also, the Escoto brothers and Carl Bryan Cruz became offensive options for the Tams late in the game, with Cruz burying a back-breaking triple to halt a La Salle comeback. Russell Escoto was just downright marvelous in his return from ACL injury as he pumped in 13 points and snared five boards while shooting 67% from the field.
La Salle should’ve had this in the bag. But the Archers just kept missing Mike Tolomia on hand-offs from Russell Escoto at the right quarter court for three to four straight times in the second half after they threw a misdirection telling the Archers to guard Escoto who was draining jumpers in earlier Pick n’ Fades. This gamble by Nash Racela paid off beautifully and with Carl Bryan Cruz draining two triples, helped their cause by pulling the bigs outside for Belo to operate on his mismatches. It doesn’t help that Jeron Teng shot 4-for-15 the whole game.