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La Salle and UST collide in high-stakes match-up

By Paolo Mariano Posted Sep 13th 2013

Expect all-out action between La Salle and UST as they square off in a crucial match in the final stretches of the elimination round.

There’s no room for mistakes for De La Salle University and University of Santo Tomas (UST) as they clash in a high-stakes encounter in the main game of the 76th UAAP men’s senior basketball tournament this Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Green Archers are looking to tie National University (NU) and Far Eastern University for the best record and force a playoff with the Tamaraws for the second spot and twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four, with the Bulldogs getting the top seat due to a superior quotient.

The Growling Tigers, on the other hand, are hoping to at least force a playoff against five-time defending champion Ateneo de Manila University for the last semifinals ticket.

One winning streak, however, has got to give for La Salle and UST, who are both coming off huge wins.

The boys from Taft have yet to lose in the second round, prevailing in six straight games—their longest winning streak since 2008. Their 57-55 victory over NU last Sunday kept their hopes alive for the twice-to-beat incentive.

The Growling Tigers, meanwhile, have strung up three consecutive Ws. They made mincemeat of University of the Philippines last Saturday, holding the Fighting Maroons to a measly 39 points on a harrowing 18.5% shooting clip—both lowest in the UAAP since 2003.

La Salle will once again lean on stellar sophomore Jeron Teng, double-double machine Jason Perkins, and streaky shooter Almond Vosotros, all of whom have alternated in top-scoring for their team in the second round.

The Green Archers have clearly stepped up their defense, limiting opponents to only 63.7 PPG, a large improvement from the 74.0 PPG they allowed in the first round. They still need to address their shooting from the stripe though, dropping to 58.8% from 61.0% in the opening half of the season.

Over in España, the veteran core of Karim Abdul, Aljon Mariano, and Kevin Ferrer will once again carry the fight for UST. Team captain Jeric Teng is also expected to contribute, albeit in a lesser role as he’s still trying to regain his rhythm in an injury-stricken stint.

Consistent ball movement has done wonders for the Growling Tigers, tallying 17.0 APG in their winning streak. They’ve also been more aggressive in pushing the ball, averaging 13.7 points off the break in their last three outings.

It will also be an interesting collision of contrasting styles on the sidelines. La Salle rookie mentor Juno Sauler carries a seemingly detached personality, while UST drillmaster Pido Jarencio is more emotional and cantankerous.

The Growling Tigers defeated the Green Archers in their first meeting, 63-58, with a healthy Jeric Teng paving the way with 23 points, six rebounds, and three assists.

The game will air live on Studio 23, BALLS HD 167, and with a replay on the same day at 9 p.m. on BALLS SkyCable channel 34/Destiny Cable channel 36.