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Archers capture UAAP title behind Vosotros heroics

By Anthony Divinagracia Posted Oct 12th 2013

Almond Vosotros proved tough as a nut on Saturday, nailing the game-winning jumper with 19 seconds left to hand La Salle its first title since 2007.

De La Salle University proved tough as nut on Saturday.

Or better yet – tough as Almond.

Pressed and pressured all game long, Almond Vosotros unleashed the killer arrow straight into the hearts of Jeric Teng and the rest of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) faithful in crunchtime to guide La Salle back to the Promised Land of the 76th UAAP men’s basketball tournament before a sea of green at the jampacked Mall of Asia Arena.

Vosotros ditched an open three-point attempt, faked and slipped past Teng from the right elbow before launching the game-winning baseline jumper with 19.7 seconds left in Game 3 as the Archers nipped the Tigers, 71-69,  in overtime to complete a sensational climb from 15 points down and win their first UAAP title since 2007.

Finals MVP Jeron Teng led the Archers with an all-around output of 25 points, eight rebounds, and six assists but it was the patience and veteran smarts of the 5-foot-10 Vosotros which spelled difference in La Salle’s no-more-tomorrow romp to the top.

The fourth-year guard chalked up 16 points despite going only 2-of-8 from three-point range while negotiating the menacing defense of Teng throughout the contest.

“Sayang yung binibigay sa akin na confidence ng mga coaches. Yung last shot ko siguro ang dami lang siguro nagpe-pray na pumasok yun,” Vosotros said.

La Salle’s bigs also did its share of damage anew with Mythical Five member Jason Perkins and Arnold Van Opstal tallying 13 and 11 markers, respectively for the Archers, who limited UST to just four points in overtime.

Perkins capped his rookie season with 18 rebounds, including eight offensive boards.

With the victory, the Archers became the eighth team in the Final Four era to capture the series after losing Game 1. La Salle tied archrival Ateneo de Manila University with eight titles overall.

“Everyone just wanted to fight it out, even in the last five minutes in the overtime period. Some of them have been cramping up. I know we were down but they wanted to fight it out ‘til the very end. They showed great fight in them,” said La Salle coach Juno Sauler, who became the second coach in seven years to win a championship in his maiden season.

Ironically, Sauler achieved the feat at the expense of UST coach Pido Jarencio, the first rookie mentor to pull the act in 2006.

Unable to settle on a rhythm from the get-go, the Archers found themselves trailing majority of the first half with Karim Abdul dominating the inside and Jeric Teng hitting back-to-back triples to ignite a telling 8-2 blitz and push UST up, 32-23, at the break.

The Tigers visibly outworked La Salle in the first 20 minutes of play, grabbing 27 rebounds, including 13 from the offensive glass while logging in nine assists and six steals.

Clark Bautista then joined Teng in the scoring fray come third quarter as they nailed a pair of baskets each to spark another 8-1 rush and give UST its biggest lead at 40-25.

But La Salle did not panic.

“I just told them to run and push the ball,” Sauler said to his wards, who countered with a huge 18-4 run punctuated by triples from Vosotros and Thomas Torres to wrest the upperhand, 47-46 and the momentum entering the payoff period.

UST mounted a 9-2 assault capped by a Jeric Teng triple to own a 59-54 lead with 5:23 in the fourth. Yet Jeron Teng refused to let his brother take over as he went on a seven-point swing, including a three-point play before cramping up at the 3:53 mark. His last basket in regulation knotted the count for the tenth time at 61-all with 2:22 left.

Kevin Ferrer canned two freethrows before Perkins and Jeron Teng made baskets each to hand La Salle a 65-63 lead with 1:03 in the clock.

Aljon Mariano banged in two more charities with 53 ticks to tie the game. La Salle could’ve finished the Tigers with plenty of time on its side but the Archers wasted crucial possessions at the turn – the last on Jeron Teng’s drop pass to Van Opstal which sailed out of bounds.

Regaining the ball off La Salle’s timely miscues, the Tigers mapped out one last play with six second left. But the struggling Mariano, who received the inbound, opted to jack up a top-of-the-key triple that clanged out of the rim at the horn, forcing the extra session.

Vosotros quickly stole the lead for La Salle with an easy basket off a broken play to start the overtime period, 67-65.

Gassed up and showing little offensive activity in the next three minutes, the Tigers then burned their only timeout with 1:19 remaining to catch up.

Ferrer then converted a low-post play before Teng drilled in a go-ahead baseline floater with 34 seconds to carry UST up, 69-67.

Jeron Teng answered with a split inside the 50-second barrier before UST recovered the leather off a mad scramble for possession only for Mariano to spill as he threw a long pass which Ferrer failed to handle in the last 30 ticks of the contest, setting up Vosotros’ ultimate heroics with the marginal jumper for a 70-69 edge.

“It just boiled down to multiple possessions. The players just showed discipline. It was a great learning experience,” Sauler said.

Abdul dished a workman-like effort in a losing cause for the Tigers with 26 points, eight rebounds, and three steals while Jeric Teng added 24 on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc to cap an eventful UAAP career.

“After the game, I didn’t know what to feel. On the one hand I’m celebrating because we’re champions. On the other hand, I felt bad for my brother. He did his best. He played with all heart. I just wish him luck. For me, he is the (Finals) MVP,” said Jeron of brother Jeric who fell on his knees in tears after failing to win the title anew in his second championship stint.

In yet another fine gesture of brotherly love and sportsmanship, Jeron approached Jeric at centercourt and hugged the graduating UST captain. Jeric then raised the hand of his younger brother in appreciation.

Ferrer, who was reportedly feeling ill before the game, wound up with just seven points on a forgettable 2-of-12 from the field while Mariano remained lost in the series to the very end, scoring just three - all on freethrows - and missing all his eight field goal attempts despite collecting ten rebounds in 32 minutes of play.

The scores:

DLSU 71 – Teng 25, Vosotros 16, Perkins 13, Van Opstal 11, T.Torres 4, N. Torres 1, Revilla 1, Tampus 0, Salem 0.

UST 69 – Abdul 26, Teng 24, Ferrer 7, Bautista 4, Mariano 3, Sheriff 2, Lao 2, Pe 1.

Quarter scores: 16-18, 24-32, 47-48, 65-65, 71-69.