Archers tame defending champ Bulldogs

Jeron Teng fires 18 points to lead the De La Salle Green Archers past defending champion NU Bulldogs to kick off its UAAP title bid. File Photo

MANILA, Philippines -- La Salle fired a warning shot to the rest of the field, outclassing defending champion National U, 67-63, Sunday in a marquee match-up in Day Two of the UAAP Season 78 men's basketball tourney at the Mall of Asia Arena. 

The Green Archers jumped the gun on the Bulldogs to seize the initiative and leaned on Jeron Teng to make the big shot down the stretch and weather a furious NU rally en route to the statement victory.

"We have to come out really strong because we know NU, being the defending champion, will give us a good fight. They proved that in the fourth quarter when they came back so we just told everybody to be ready," said DLSU coach Juno Sauler, who nine rookies in his roster this year.

Teng hit a crucial banked shot to give DLSU a 64-61 cushion heading to the last 23.6 seconds, capping an 18-point performance that put the Archers among the early leaders of the tourney.

"For me, it didn't prove anything yet. We have to continue improving every game," said Teng.

The Archers held the Bulldogs to only six points in the first canto to grab a 10-point spread and went on to post their biggest lead at 45-30 halfway through the third.

But the Bulldogs rallied back behind JJ Alejandro, Adven Diputado and Gelo Alonino and went to within one at 59-60 before DLSU countered with a 7-4 windup to clinch the win.

"We had a bad start, bad first half. I thought we didn't play the way we wanted to. Maybe you can give that to opening day jitters since we have a lot of new players. But overall, I'm happy with the way we ended the game. We fought hard, unfortunately we fell short," said NU mentor Eric Altamirano.

Freshman Andrei Caracut shot 13 spiked by three triples while Jason Perkins added 13 markers and 12 rebounds to backstop Teng.

NU's cause was hurt by the foul woes of Alfred Aroga, who was called for two early fouls in the first and fouled out with 1:03 left. Season 77 Finals MVP Aroga managed only nine points and 10 rebounds in a limited 25 minutes.

"Everytime he's on the bench, that's when the lead ballooned. So that's one thing we have to address - make sure we'll be able to keep it close when he's out of the game," said Altamirano.

Sauler credited Abu Tratter for standing his ground against Aroga.

"Abu played very hard. It was because of is physicality that Aroga got some of his fouls," said Sauler.

The Scores:

First game

DLSU 67 - Teng 18, Caracut 13, Perkins 13, Rivero 11, Sargent 6, Torres 3, Tratter 3, Go 0, Langston 0.

NU 63 - Alolino 16, Alejandro 15, Aroga 9, Diputado 8, Javelona 4, Salim 4, Neypes 3, Javillonar 2, Morido 2, Abatayo 0, Celda 0, Rangel 0, Tansingco 0.

Quarterscores: 16-6, 33-23, 51-40, 67-63.

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