Published on June 23rd, 2017 | by Genrev Josiah Villamin0
Green Archers move a win away from Filoil title repeat
De La Salle University Green Archers are one win away from their fifth Filoil Flying V Preseason title.
The Green Archers march into the finals of the 2017 Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup at the expense of the Lyceum Pirates, 100-99, Friday in San Juan. The finals appearance marks as their fourth consecutive and seventh overall since the tournament debuted in 2006.
Aljun Melecio led La Salle with 30 points built around five triples. Ricci Rivero and Ben Mbala contributed 27 and 26 points, respectively. Ben Mbala, who leads the tournament in statistical points, also logged 15 rebounds.
The Green Archers banked on a solid end-game defense to put the gritty Pirates away. The win set up a finals showdown with San Beda.
La Salle’s starters connected on their shots to create a distance early into the 1st quarter. Rivero and Andrei Caracut, who both finished in double-digits on Wednesday against FEU, opened the scoring with consecutive baskets. Melecio’s layup made it 15-8 with 6:50 to play. He further extended their lead to 11 with a baseline shot, 23-12. They sat on a 23-15 after the opening period.
The Pirates countered the Green Archers’ offense by racking up 9 points in the first four minutes of the 2nd frame. They were able to cut DLSU’s lead to a solitary point, 24-25, before eventually tying it at 30-all. The Taft-based squad, on the other hand, found themselves trailing by three, 39-42, after two straight triples by Lyceum. A 6-2 run initiated by Mbala got them back to the driver’s seat with 1:22 to play in the 1st half. However, three free throw conversions by Baltazar, Lyceum’s own, made it a 47-45 lead for the Intramuros-based squad at the halftime.
Melecio, who led his team in the 1st half with 13 points, quickly added four more to his total to start the 2nd half as La Salle regained the lead. A basket by Mbala midway through the quarter brought the Green Archers’ advantage back to nine points. They continued to control the pace for the remaining four minutes of the period. Back-to-back hits from the rainbow country by Melecio gave the Lasallians a 77-69 lead before ending the 3rd canto, 77-73.
Into the 4th and final quarter, Melecio continued to sizzle as he hit another three-pointer off his own offensive rebound. He scored 11 of the last 13 points of the Green and White. With 7:30 remaining, their lead extended to double-digits, 86-75, courtesy of an Mbala free throw. The tenacious Pirates gave another scare after organizing an 11-1 run to trim their deficit to one point anew, 88-87. The game went on seesaw but DLSU continued to hold their one-point edge over LPU, 95-94, with 1:16 to play. A highlight play by the Gray and Red tied the game at 97-all with 49 seconds to go. Santi Santillan made a heroic crucial basket and-1 to put the Green Archers up for good.
The DLSU Green Archers managed to escape with the W as the LPU Pirates turned the ball over twice and missed the game-winner with 0.3 of a second remaining, 100-99.
La Salle and San Beda have faced each other in the finals thrice where La Salle beat them twice. San Beda won the title in their most recent finals meeting in 2015.
The Green Archers, who will defend their 2016 Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup title, are expected to be all-in against the Red Lions on Sunday, 4:00 PM.
DLSU 100 – Melecio 30, Rivero 27, Mbala 26, Santillan 9, Caracut 4, Baltazar 2, Tero 2, Go 0, Tratter 0
LPU 99 – Perez 24, Baltazar 19, Tansingco 15, Ayaay 13, Nzeusseu 7, Caduyac 6, Marcelino 5, Pretta 5, Marcelino 4, Ibanez 1, Liwag 0, Cinco 0