By Bashful JVS
The De La Salle Green Archers had their modest winning streak snapped by the ADMU Blue Eagles, falling 69-77 to the defending champions yesterday at the MOA Arena.
Encho Serrano led the Green Archers with 18 points, while Jamie Malonzo recorded a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds in limited minutes due to early foul trouble before fouling out with 1:25 left in the game.
Both teams shot 34% from the field, and made 8 three-pointers, but La Salle’s 17 turnovers (converted to 17 ADMU points) compared to ADMU’s 10 (converted to 10 La Salle points) was the main difference in the game. ADMU also dominated the paint against La Salle, with 36-22 points in the paint, and 6 blocks compared to La Salle’s 1.
The team from Katipunan showed why they are the defending champions, outsteadying the Green Archers in the fourth quarter to score their 10th win in Season 82 in as many games. Adrian Wong led ADMU with 18 points on 4/7 from beyond the arc, while Angelo Kouame put asserted his inside dominance with 10 points, 14, rebounds, and 3 blocks.
The first quarter saw the teams trading buckets in a nip-and-tuck affair, which saw the Green Archers trail 15-19. Adrian Wong scored ADMU’s first 8 points, while La Salle bucked a slow start before building an early 12-8 lead. However, the Eagles would respond with an 11-3 run to claim the first. The quarter would not end with controversy as Encho Serrano was called a technical foul for throwing the basketball at Tyler Tio during a rebound play before the quarter ended.
The Blue Eagles started the second quarter with more energy, which saw them racing to a 34-22 lead over the Green Archers. However, La Salle refused to be intimidated unlike what happened in the first round encounter. Encho Serrano scored 6 of his game-high 15 points in an 8-2 counter run, which allowed to La Salle cut the deficit to 30-36 as both teams entered the half-time locker room.
La Salle started the third quarter with a 6-2 run to close the gap at 36-38, but the Blue Eagles would take control of the rest of the quarter to extend to a 51-42 lead. La Salle would make another run before the third quarter ended, once again led by Encho Serrano. Serrano made a layup to bring La Salle to within three points, but ADMU had the final say of the third quarter with a Will Navarro layup to give the Eagles a 55-50 lead to enter the final quarter.
The Green Archers had to play catch-up basketball the entire fourth quarter after ADMU opened the quarter with six straight points, courtesy of Will Navarro and Mike Nieto. La Salle would never come close to within 6 points of ADMU in the quarter, whe Blue Eagles building their lead to as much as 13 in the quarter. La Salle kept banging on the door but Ateneo came up with timely plays to maintain their advantage.
La Salle made a last ditch-effort to come back, but Andrei Caracut made a crucial error by committing a foul off the ball with 29 seconds to go, which gifted ADMU a technical free throw to push to a 74-67 lead. Aljun Melecio would score the final bucket for La Salle before settling for the final score.
With the loss, the Archers dropped to a 4-5 record in Season 82, still in contention for a spot in the final four. La Salle’s next game is against the UE Red Warriors on Wednesday, 10:30 AM, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
In the curtain-raiser, the Lady Archers defeated the ADMU Lady Eagles, 62-53, to keep their final four hopes alive.