La Salle falls to Ateneo, 73-62, slides to 5th place with a 5-7 record. Can the season still be saved?
2 games left. The season is in the balance. Can La Salle still make it to the Final Four? Or are the dark years here again?
In a rivalry game that was more important than usual because of Final Four implications, La Salle once again faltered during crunch time, as the De La Salle Green Archers dropped a painful 73-62 loss to the Ateneo De Manila Blue Eagles. The loss dimmed the flickering hopes of the Archers for an outright slot as they fell one win behind NU.
La Salle started the first quarter strong, thanks to some early inside baskets of Jeron Teng and Larry Muyang, while Joshua Torralba waxed hot, making 2 triples. There was good ball movement by the Archers during the first quarter, which led to good shots. The first quarter ended with a 23-13 lead for the green and white. Ateneo made their move during the second quarter, as they cut the lead all the way down to just 3 points, 25-22. But Thomas Torres, Jeron Teng and Joshua Torralba made some timely baskets to keep the Eagles at bay. The second quarter ended with the Archers still leading, 35-30.
La Salle has struggled during the third quarter on some games this season. Who could ever forget the 20-0 run by FEU during the third quarter of the DLSU-FEU first round contest. Once again, La Salle had a horrible third quarter, this time against Ateneo, as they were outscored by the Blue Eagles, 23-9 during the third period. Only Prince Rivero, Jeron Teng, Larry Muyang and Andrei Caracut scored for the Archers during the third quarter. Prince, Jeron and Muyang only scored 1 field goal each, while Caracut made 3 free throws. It was truly a horrible third quarter for the boys from Taft. Kiefer Ravena and Adrian Wong scored 6 points each during the third quarter; Von Pessumal added 4 points while Fonzo Gotladera, Aaron Black and Matthew Nieto all joined the scoring party for the Eagles during their third quarter run. The third quarter ended with a 53-44 lead for the Ateneans.
La Salle had a mini-run during the fourth quarter, thanks to some baskets by Thomas Torres and Prince Rivero, to cut the lead to just 5, 55-50. But once again, the role players of Ateneo like Adrian Wong and Aaron Black made some timely baskets for the Blue Eagles. The game turned for the worse for the Archers when Jeron Teng fouled out late in the fourth quarter with Ateneo leading, 64-55. La Salle tried one last rally, but Ateneo had an answer every time La Salle tries a comeback. La Salle started jacking up three pointers, as Thomas Torres once again missed a crucial triple. Thomas even made a mental mistake, as he was called for an unsportsmanlike foul; that led to him fouling out. Ateneo made their free throws down the stretch, to close out the game with a final score of 73-62.
Prince Rivero top scored for the Archers with 16 points, while Jeron Teng added 11 points. They were the only 2 who scored in double-digits for La Salle. Joshua Torralba scored 8 points, all in the first half, while Jason Perkins chipped in 8 points as well. DLSU shot a horrible 12/24 from the foul line.
We are now down to our last 2 elimination round games. There are several different scenarios to earn a Final Four slot, or at least a playoff for the Final Four slot. NU, DLSU and even UE are still in the running for the last Final Four spot. Our fate is still, in a way, in our hands. We just need to win our 2 remaining games, and we can get at the very least, a playoff for the last Final Four spot. The season is not yet over. We just need to focus during our last 2 games. Then take it from there.