(Photo by Flavius Dulce) The De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers opened their campaign on a misstep after bowing to the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles, 69-81, earlier today, September 8, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Archers’ first game had all the indications of a close and exciting matchup against their archrivals the Blue Eagles. Right from the get go, the Taft-based squad put their foot on the pedal and had the Eagles on their heels on the defensive end throughout the first period.
Contrasting styles on the offensive end was apparent, La Salle dictated the pace and took every opportunity to get out on transition on the offensive end. Meanwhile, Ateneo continued their slow and steady approach relying on crisp execution to run their offense. Both teams traded baskets in the early goings of the quarter. As Ateneo looked to pull away, ahead by six, 7-13, Jamie Malonzo announced his presence in the UAAP and unleashed a vicious and 1 dunk, 10-13, to snap the Eagles’ momentum. The play seemed to reinvigorate the Archers as they stuck close to end the first frame down by just two, 21-23.
The second frame seemed like it would continue the breakneck pace of the opening quarter as a quick drive by Andrei Caracut tied the game 23 apiece. The Eagles however had other plans as they quickly adjusted their defensive gameplan to disrupt the Archers’ free flowing offense. The defensive pressure combined with questionable fouls by La Salle prevented fastbreaks and slowed the pace of the game in favor of Ateneo. With the game running at a different pace, La Salle struggled to get their offense going throughout the quarter managing to score just eight points. The defending champions capitalized and went on a crippling 19-1 run to close the quarter and bury the Archers in a 20 point deficit.
Off the halftime break, the Eagles continued to stifle the Archer’s offense maintaining their lead early in the quarter. Ateneo looked on their way to a blowout when the Archers showed signs of life. A four point play by Caracut sparked a 13-6 run to cut the Eagles’ lead to 15, 57-42. La Salle continued to rally towards the end of the third frame as Malonzo fired a triple to cut the lead to 13, 63-50 in the final minutes of the quarter. But Ateneo responded with a triple of their own to close the period, 66-50.
Strangely enough, the fourth and final frame proved to be the decider. Despite falling in a huge deficit early, La Salle unleashed a furious barrage near the final minutes of the match. Back-to-back layups by Encho Serrano and Aljun Melecio cut the deficit to single digits, 71-62, prompting a quick timeout from Ateneo to try to stop the Archer uprising. The ceasefire seemed to do the trick as Ateneo maintained their lead as the minutes trickled down to end the match, 81-69.
Gian Mamuyac played the role of the hero for the defending champions answering big baskets by Baltazar and Caracut, snuffing out any hopes for a La Salle comeback. The up and coming Eagle won Player of the Game honors, finishing with 14 points, six coming from the last three minutes of the game, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
For the Green Archers, Malonzo had an impressive showing, leading the team in the scoring department with 18. Caracut and Baltazar also helped power La Salle’s offense, both scoring in double digits, 14 and 10.
DLSU (69) – Malonzo 18, Caracut 14, Baltazar 10, Serrano 8, Melecio 7, Lojera 6, Manuel 6
ADMU (81) – Nieto Mi 18, Nieto Ma 15, Mamuyac 14, Navarro 8, Andrade 6, Kouame 6, Ravena 6, Tio 4, Belangel 2, Go 2
Quarterscores: 21-23, 29-51, 50-66, 69-81
Catch the Green Archers as they try to grab their first win of the season against the NU Bulldogs on September 11 (Wednesday) at the same venue.