La Salle made sure there would be no fourth quarter collapse this time around as the De la Salle Green Archers defeated the FEU Tamaraws 75-66 on a rainy Sunday afternoon inside the Mall of Asia Arena. FEU started the game with a quick 5-0 lead but it was all La Salle after that as the Archers ended the first quarter with a 23-14 lead. La Salle dominated most of the second quarter and led by as many as 22. But the Tamaraws battled back and made a furious late second quarter rally as the first half ended with a 44-33 lead for the Green and White squad. La Salle took control of the third quarter, which ended with a 60-50 lead for the Green Archers. But FEU battled back during the fourth quarter as they cut the lead all the way down to two points, 62-60. The La Salle crowd got tensed up because of that. Could it be déjà vu for the Archers? Will La Salle choke again? Fortunately, La Salle showed composure down the stretch as the Archers unloaded a crucial 9-2 run, thanks to a couple of clutch baskets from Jeron Teng, to grab a 71-62 lead. FEU made one last rally towards the last two minutes of the game but it was a case of too little, too late as the Archers were able to pull away for a 75-66 win. With the win, the Archers improved to 5-4 for solo fourth place, well within striking distance of second place NU that holds a 6-3 mark, and FEU dropped to 7-2, still got enough though for solo first place, at least for now.
Reviewing the Keys to the Game
Let Romeo be his old self, bro?
A check mark for this one as Romeo struggled for just 12 points in another horrible shooting performance, going just 4/18 from the field, including a miserable 1/8 from the three-point line. I said in my pre-game that Romeo might try to do too much to prove his critics wrong, and he did try to do too much, leading to another FEU defeat. During their infamous “twitter war”, Nico Salva told Romeo “tuloy mo lang yan,ayos yan, haha” and it seems that Romeo took Salva’s advice as he did continue with his shooting slump. I expect Romeo to bounce back in his next few games, and I guess some Lasallians would want FEU to recover from this, so they can beat the other teams that are competing with La Salle for Final Four positioning.
Jeron Teng should get out of his scoring slump
Another check mark as Jeron finally scored in double-figures for the first time in three games as he dropped 16 points, including a few insurance baskets during the fourth period. He shot a decent 7/16 from the field and grabbed nine rebounds, almost a double-double performance. La Salle is hoping that Jeron can be consistent in his scoring and his overall game, just like he is consistent in tweeting “#mastergameface”.
Another Arnold Van Awesome performance
An X-mark for this one. AVO scored just nine points and six rebounds. He was saddled with foul trouble during the first half. He took a bad fall during the second half and he was visibly shaken. Normally a good free throw shooter, he struggled from the line, making just 3/10 from the charity stripe. Obviously, the bad fall affected his shooting stroke. I expect AVO to bounce back in the next game.
Terrence Romeo (old version) versus Terrence Romeo (2013 1st round version)
The old Romeo showed up for this game. Romeo struggled during the game and he elected to jack up one outside shot after another despite that fact that he is cold from the field. I don’t expect him to have a third straight bad game though. Romeo will bounce back and I expect him to lead FEU to a 12-2 or 11-3 record for the first seed, and an MVP award.
Jason Perkins had a monster game, scoring 18 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. He stepped up with AVO struggling a bit and with “The Bear “ Norbert Torres missing in action as usual. Jeron Teng also had a good game, scoring 16 points. For the second straight game, with Thomas Torres still out Kib Montalbo stepped up showed flashes of brilliance as the backup point guard. He scored five points, all during the second quarter. Matt Salem lived up to his billing as a long-range specialist as he made two three-point shots during that huge second quarter run.
FREE THROWS! I thought the curse was over but I am so wrong. La Salle struggled from the line, making just 14/33 from the 15-foot line. Normally a good free throw shooter, AVO struggled, making just 3/10, obviously his rhythm got bothered by that bad fall he suffered during the third quarter. After shooting “ok” from the line the last few games, Jeron struggled from the line again, making just 2/5 shots. La Salle needs to fix this problem ASAP or else La Salle might get eliminated early in the Final Four.
Next stop for La Salle is the winless UP Fighting Maroons. La Salle should not be complacent and make sure to get a huge win against UP, because after that, it will be another showdown with rival Ateneo. La Salle needs a huge winning streak, as it will end the round with three tough games with fellow Final Four contenders UE,NU and UST. Adamson is slowly fading away. Six teams have a good shot at the two twice to beat advantage and every game will be crucial into getting into that position. Fasten your seatbelts, folks. We are in for a wild finish. Keep dry and stay safe, fellow basketball fans!