For the first part of the game, the DLSU Green Archers looked like they were going to be blown out again by a contender. But they had other plans in the second half as they stunned their rivals Ateneo Blue Eagles with a 80-76 come from behind win.
The Green Archers went down to an early deficit, trailing as much as 15, midway through the second, with a lot of Ateneo’s basket coming from wide open looks inside off nice passes. It looked like we were seeing the DLSU team who lost to UST — with some ugly defense, rushed shots, and a little energy. But in the second half, we saw a totally different Green Archer team as they were suddenly filled with an abundant amount of energy, resulting to their good defense and a little help from their outside shooting. By the end of the third quarter, Ateneo’s 15-point advantage became a distant memory as the game was tied at 61. In the fourth quarter, the Green Archers and Blue Eagles exchanged shots on both ends. With less than a minute left, La Salle found Joshua Torralba open for a three to give them a one-point cushion. Ateneo had a chance to tie or even win the game, but Kiefer Ravena missed two crucial shots as La Salle hanged on to a four-point victory.
The Green Archers won a crucial duel against their archrivals to finish their first round above .500. Not only did La Salle gain momentum going to the second round, it also gave them a better place in the standings. Now at 4-3, they are tied at third with Ateneo and possibly NU (depending on the result of their game versus FEU). Had they lost this matchup, it would have dropped them to fifth with a 3-4 record, which would widen their gap against Ateneo, who would have been 5-2. It was also a win that may help build something going into the second round, after a roller coaster first round filled with flashes of brilliance and disappointments.
The Green Archers showed a lot of character in this game. They finally played with the energy which was lacking in a number of their games this season. After their lackluster first half, they held Ateneo to just 30 points in the 2nd half which is a big improvement, considering the 48 and 46 second half points they gave up against FEU and UST respectively. They also held Kiefer Ravena to a 7-24 outing, something that should be credited to Jeron Teng as he was defending him for a big chunk of the game. The Green Archers had an impressive ORB of 28.9% as opposed to Ateneo’s 17.5% considering their tall frontcourt. DLSU also were able to control the ball well, having a 9.25% turnover rate. Aside from DLSU’s energy as a team, two players who has been inconsistent throughout the first round stepped up in this crucial victory. Jason Perkins finally woke up, playing his best game since DLSU’s opening win against NU, tallying 13 points, including three three-pointers (all in the 2nd half). Thomas Torres had his best game of the season with 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Jeron Teng also played his usual spectular game, tallying 19 points, including 10 points in the final quarter, going along with six rebounds and five assists.
While this was a huge win for La Salle, there were still a lot things to improve on. Particularly their cold spells, where Ateneo made a huge run bridging the first and second quarters. Like their game against FEU, UST and UP, they had dry spells that would give them huge deficits. Fortunately for them this time around, they were able to recover in time for the victory. The Green Archers also missed a lot of free throws, shooting just 50% (14/28) from the line. It has been a problem this season, and let’s just hope they can improve this aspect going to the second round.