by JV Sacramento
The De La Salle Green Archers shook off a sluggish start to end the first round on a high note by defeating the UST Growling Tigers with a resounding 92-77 victory.
The win improved La Salle’s record to 3-4 in the ongoing men’s basketball tournament, heading into the second round, in a three-way tie with Adamson and FEU for fourth place in the standings.
La Salle’s defense contained UST’s star trio of Rhenz Abando, Mark Nonoy, and CJ Cansino, while limiting the damage of Soulemane Chabi Yo. On offense, guard play was the theme for the Archers for the afternoon, as Aljun Melecio (26 points) and Encho Serrano (29 points), who played his best game for La Salle so far, combined to lead La Salle’s attack. Brent Paraiso led the Tigers with a season-high 22 points, while Chabi Yo had 16 points and 14 rebounds for UST.
The team in green and white started flat, as Brent Paraiso came out of the gates on fire to score UST’s first seven points of the game. La Salle took time to settle into the game, but when they did, they unleashed a 15-4 run to take a 17-11 lead in the first quarter. They would maintain the same advantage at the end of the first quarter, 20-14.
UST tried to make a run in the second quarter, but La Salle made the necessary adjustments and built up the lead to 10 points at the end of the first half, 42-32. The Tigers made their move in the third quarter. This time, however, the Green Archers had every answer, a contrast from their heartbreaking loss to the UP Fighting Maroons.
Encho Serrano came to La Salle’s rescue in the third quarter. He scored nine straight points to ensure La Salle’s advantage would be similar heading into the fourth quarter. The Green Archers took a 67-58 lead after a high-scoring third quarter.
Melecio and Serrano put on the finishing touches in the fourth quarter, in a game that La Salle had control of for almost the whole time. Jamie Malonzo also joined the party – he hit a three pointer to give La Salle a 15-point cushion with 6 minutes to go in the game.
Again, UST tried to mount a comeback, but it was Aljun Melecio who shut the door on the Tigers. The 5’7″ sniper hit back to back threes to extend La Salle’s lead to an 88-71 lead with a little over than 2 minutes to go in the game, while Serrano sealed the deal with a lay-up to give La Salle a 92-75 advantage with less than a minute to go.
This was a nice rebound from the disappointing loss to UP, as the Archers showed poise and composure in the end-game. With the win, hopefully the Green Archers can build some momentum to start the second round.