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Archers end Falcons’ quest

Green Archer Ricci Rivero tries to control the ball as he drives to the basket past Falcons Dawn  Hynric Ochea (left) and Papi Sarr in their semifinal game yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Joey Mendoza  

MANILA, Philippines — It took La Salle until the 31st minute to get going and when it did, there was nothing Adamson could do to stop the Green Archers train.

Like flicking a switch at the most important time, the slow-starting Green Archers went full steam and wiped out what was once a 15-point spread to set the stage for an 82-75 win over Adamson and a return trip to the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball finals.

“Wala nang ibang motivation kundi championship, wala nang kung ano-ano pa, championship na ang pinag-uusapan dito (Our motivation is the championship, nothing else),” said DLSU coach Aldin Ayo after his No. 2 seeded charges took the next step in their title retention bid by making it to the best-of-three finals.

Down by nine at the start of the fourth, the Archers unleashed their championship form and detonated a lethal 14-0 bomb to turn things around.

“The key play there was made by Abu Tratter when he set that screen to Jolo Go that started everything,” said Ayo of the opening offensive in the fourth that saw Go hitting a corner trey to spark the La Sallian rampage.

Key stats in the fourth showed DLSU outscoring AdU, 28-12, and enjoying a big margin in rebounding, 20-7. DLSU also made 8 of 14 freethrows off nine AdU fouls in the payoff period whereas the Falcons didn’t go to the stripe at all.

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Banking on six triples, the Falcons took double-digit margins in the first 20 minutes and made DLSU play catch-up up until the end of third.

“I asked the boys during halftime, are you playing like this because this is not Ateneo (on the opposite side)? This was more important than the Ateneo game (last week). Siguro natauhan (They woke up). We were sloppy in the first half and gave up 14 turnover points, we couldn’t execute our game plan because of those turnovers,” said Ayo.

Ben Mbala took scoring cudgels with 27 points and 14 rebounds as Santi Santillan helped out with 15 and 8. Ricci Rivero added 14 and Aljun Melecio made all of his seven in the fourth. 

Denied of a sweep and the fast lane to the finals, top-seeded Ateneo goes through the regular route intent on reaching the next target destination just the same.

A week after seeing their perfect mark stained by 76-79 setback to La Salle, the Blue Eagles hit the court today against No. 4 Far Eastern U more determined than ever to clinch their seat in the title series.

“For sure we’re gonna bounce back. We promise we’re gonna be hungrier next time,” said AdMU guard Matt Nieto.

Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin said the Eagles have moved on from the failed sweep bid.

“It (Sweep) would have been nice to have, but that’s it…even if we won (the 14th game) we got to leave it behind pretty quick because the golden apple that we’re after is still in front of us,” he said.

“What matters is the next game, right? We still have to win the title now we just got a different route to try and do what we want to do,” he added.

The Tams caught the last bus to the F4 after taking down Adamson, 71-54, in their final game in the elims. First-year coach Olsen Racela said their work shouldn’t stop there.

“We’re happy we’re in the Final Four but we’re not contended,” said Racela

The Tams mentor hopes his charges can maintain consistency from start to finish, something they achieved in the game against Adamson

“Ganon ang season namin (That’s the story for the season). In the first part of the season, we’re having trouble starting games, nasolusyunan namin yun then naging problema naman namin ang finishing. Hopefully that would carry us, give us momentum going to the Final Four,” said Racela.

Meanwhile, No. 3 UST and No. 4 FEU open hostilities in the women’s division playoffs as they square off at 1 p.m. for the right to meet second-seeded University of the East in the next game of the stepladder semis.


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