DLSU Green Archers def. NU Bulldogs 84-77
Santi “Dodong” Santillan (18 points, 5 rebounds, 57% FG, +12)
When Brandon Bates committed a loose ball foul on Yssa Gaye with 5:36 to go in the second quarter, it was imminent that the other members of the lean La Salle frontline play extended minutes. Santillan led the way and delivered the critical shots when the chips were down. 14 points during the 3rd quarter comeback run and four timely points in the 4th. Santillan played a vital role in defense being the close out option against NU super rookie Dave Ildefonso.
Aljun Melecio, DLSU (13 points, 6 rebounds, +10)
Melecio has evolved into an even worse headache for the opponent’s defense. The quick pull-up J and Kyrie-like lane incursions has provided depth into Melecio’s game.
But that was not the only factor. The amount of attention Melecio got from the defense translated into a series of low-post mismatches for Justine Baltazar and Santillan or momentary open looks for Andrei Caracut and Jollo Go.
And the one thing about Melecio is his clutch gene. The former DLSZ star delivered the goods when it mattered most, preserving La Salle’s two-possession lead going deep in the final quarter. His four life-saving points enabled the Archers to hold on to dear lead before Baltazar and Santillan took over, iced by the crucial Joaqui Manuel triple to peg the score beyond reach at 82-75 with 1:12 left to play
Andrei Caracut, DLSU (13 points, 3 assists, 2 steals, +12)
Andrei continues to be as steady as ever. Caracut rifled in eight points during the momentum-shifting 3rd quarter as well as a reliable option when the defense turns on the Melecio blitzing defense.
But what was valuable about Caracut was his contribution on the defensive end being the first line of defense against NU super rookie Dave Ildefonso, forcing him to give up the dribble before the green frontline collapsed.
Dave Ildefonso (20 points, 3 rebounds)
The super rookie remained super. Even as the La Salle defense was ready with their clamps to shut him down, Dave was the last Bulldog standing against the DLSU onslaught in the 3rd quarter piling in 12 of 22 NU points when the focus of the defense shifted to the hot John Lloyd Clemente.
The second-quarter-John Lloyd Clemente (19 points, 14 second quarter points, 78% FG)
It was a good 10 minutes to be a Lloydie.
Capitalizing on a defense that had their attention elsewhere, John Lloyd Clemente caught fire, razed the La Salle defense with four triples and one drive in just the second quarter that built the NU halftime lead. It was good while it lasted as Clemente started to misfire in the 3rd when the DLSU defense started to swarm JLC.
- La Salle was living on back cuts by their quick guards enabling Melecio, Caracut, and Jollo Go to go to town with mid-range Js. And when the defense started switching, quick post-up plays by Santillan and Baltazar was all the Archers need to keep their offense going. La Salle outscored NU inside the paint 36-26.
- Assigning guards to shackle Ildefonso was a stroke of a defensive genius from Coach Louie Gonzales as this forced the National U rookie to give up his dribble while the tall forwards of La Salle closed out near the basket. But this defensive scheme also has a price. It allowed National U guards to catch fire and almost blew the game open in the second quarter behind JLC’s hot hands.
- La Salle’s reliance on Melecio’s offensive presence has officially become unhealthy for the Green Archers. Without Melecio, the green shirts struggled to find good looks and often resulted in forced shots late in the shot clock. The five of Caracut, Mark Dyke, Santillan, Go and Baltazar got burned by NU’s second stringers in the middle of the second quarter when Melecio took a breather and allowed momentum to swing to NU until the end of the half. From shooting almost 50 percent in the first quarter, the Archers ended the half shooting only 37%.
- Even Bulldogs needs wings to win. When JLC became Steph Curry-unstoppable, National U clipped the lead, took command of the half, and looked superior against the reeling Archers. But when the Bulldogs perimeter offense started to miss, the whole offense sputtered. With an offensive flow that thrived on quick ball movement and was opportunistic with that extra pass, the playbook can only become functional when those open looks are converted into 2. With an offense like that, shooting 20-out-of-51 attempts simply won’t get it done.