By: Gio Gloria
UE Red Warriors def. DLSU Green Archers 89-88
Rey Suerte (Career-high 31 points on five 3-pointers, 10/20 FGs, 5/7 3-FGs, seven rebounds)
This was Rey Suerte’s *does best Jay-Z voice* Allow-Me-To-Reintroduce-Myself game as DLSU could not contain the former CESAFI MVP from scoring on a bevy of layups and jump shots. While the highlights will emphasize Suerte’s polished offensive repertoire, he was also able to maximize his being an offensive threat to the point that when the Green Archers would bring in extra defenders, he would simply throw nifty passes to cutting teammates.
The bright lights and the pressure did not faze the fifth-year transferee, who simply answered what La Salle’s defense was giving him in the final possession: inbound the ball, use the soft pick, and shoot your shot. The result? A confidence-boosting win over the Green Archers.
Neil Tolentino (19 points, 8/11 FGs, one steal)
Perhaps the sub plot of this game was that this was the Neil Tolentino revenge game. Having played with the Green Archers in some preseason tournaments a year ago, Tolentino sat out UAAP Season 81 to play for UE after being one of DLSU’s final cuts. In the first half alone, Tolentino lit up his former team for 16 points, which was four times more than his scoring output (four points) in his last two games.
Aljun Melecio (21 points, 9/19 FGs, zero turnovers)
If not for Suerte’s game-winner, Aljun Melecio would’ve been the hero for La Salle. His best performance so far this season saw him will the Green Archers back into the game, thanks in large part to an efficient midrange game that opened up the floor during the latter portion of the game and set up his potential game-winning 3-pointer with 10.8 seconds left in the ball game (but alas, Rey Suerte had other plans).
Encho Serrano (14 points, 5/5 FTs, six rebounds, three steals)
Encho Serrano gets the nod here because the former Adamson Baby Falcon gave the Green Archers their first lead of the second half. Although he did not shoot the ball well, Serrano’s overall energy and crucial baskets down the stretch (and his excellent free throw shooting) gave DLSU a chance at earning their second win this season.
- DLSU scored the game’s first points, but UE’s offense was clicking on all cylinders throughout the game. The Red Warriors were able to build a lead that ballooned to as many as 13 points behind their solid performance from behind the 3-point line (39.29 percent), while the Green Archers (22.22 percent 3-point shooting) could not distance themselves from UE by more than two points.
- Even with the Red Warriors’ hot shooting, this was a very winnable game for La Salle. Aside from outrebounding UE 54-47, DLSU had more fastbreak points (14-11) and points off turnovers (14-5).
- Entering this game, the Green Archers was one of the top passing teams in the UAAP, averaging a league-leading 22 assists. However, they only managed to dish out 12 assists against the Red Warriors after handing out 21 and 23 assists against Ateneo and NU, respectively.
- Although La Salle had a 54-47 advantage on the boards, UE outhustled them on crucial rebounds and loose balls, some of which led to extra points for the Red Warriors.
- DLSU’s 30-turnover games usually come when they play UE, but this time the Green Archers were more careful as they only coughed up the ball 10 times, which was also the same number of times the Red Warriors turned the ball over.