(Photo by Trinity Matias) SM MALL OF ASIA ARENA – Down by one with less than 15 seconds remaining, it seemed as if the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers were back to the same ending they composed in their previous game against the NU Bulldogs last Wednesday.
Fourth year spitfire Aljun Melecio, after missing all but one of his first eight attempts from beyond the arc, hit an all-important triple to bring La Salle up by two, 88-86. The Green Archers lagged almost all game long, trailing UE by as many as 13 points.
Instead, the story all changed when Rey Suerte buried an ice cold three to put them up, 89-88, with less than six ticks to go. And just like how DLSU managed to salvage the game after blowing a huge lead, the Red Warriors were able to secure the victory, sending the Green Archers to their second loss in three outings.
Both squads came up firing on all cylinders in a high-octane affair in the opening period of the game. James Laput, who filled in for an injured Jamie Malonzo, did not disappoint after tallying several markers off offensive putbacks. La Salle trailed UE at the end of the opening period, 24-28.
It was yet another disastrous second quarter showing for La Salle. The Red Warriors pounded on the Green Archers as a 5-0 spurt by Neil Tolentino pushed their lead to its biggest, 48-35. At the end of the first half, La Salle’s deficit was at 37-48.
After struggling in the second quarter, a hungrier Taft-based squad was seen as Kurt Lojera drained a trey to start the third period. The Green Archers followed it with seven more unanswered points to come to within a single possession, 53-55. But, UE found an answer as they held on to a 70-63 advantage heading into the fourth.
The Green-and-White mounted a huge comeback in the final period. Coming off the bench, Encho Serrano made loud noise after knocking a three from the logo. Melecio carried his squad with his personal run that brought them to within one with 1:40 remaining. The Green Archers finally grabbed the driver’s seat, 83-81, when Serrano made a layup with just a little over a minute to go.
Baltazar’s double-double performance of 21 points and 17 rebounds went for naught as Melecio also finished with a team-best 21 markers. Caracut came up with 16 points and six assists.
DLSU (88) – Baltazar 21, Melecio 21, Caracut 16, Serrano 14, Laput 9, Lojera 3, Bartlett 2, Manuel 2
UE (89) – Suerte 31, Tolentino 19, Cruz 13, Pagsanjan 8, Apacible 6, Conner 4, Mendoza 4, Natividad 4
The DLSU Green Archers (1-2) will return to the same venue on Wednesday, September 18, to face the FEU Tamaraws at 4 PM.