La Salle head coach Juno Sauler. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines –The De La Salle Green Archers were lucky to score in their crucial inbounds play against National University (NU) Wednesday, head coach Juno Sauler admitted.
Leading 55-53 with 1.9 seconds to go in their shot clock, La Salle forward Jason Perkins briefly shook off his defender, Kyle Neypes, and darted right under the basket. He received an inbound pass from Jeron Teng, but was double-teamed by NU's Troy Rosario, while another NU defender, Glenn Khobuntin, lurked closely.
Perkins, however, was able to rise up and muscle his way into a lay-up, giving the Green Archers a 57-53 lead with 6.7 seconds to go in the contest. The basket gave La Salle enough of a cushion to eventually go and win their first game of the season, 57-55.
"I told Jeron to look to Norbert (Torres) and then to Almond (Vosotros), Jason giving a pick, and then Jason slipping," Sauler said, explaining the play.
"It took a while for the play to develop, but Jeron was able to be patient and find Jason underneath," he added.
"We were lucky there. We were lucky."
That "lucky" play was enough to seal the contest in La Salle's favor, as Gelo Alolino's floater at the buzzer proved to be too little, too late for NU.
Perkins finished with 14 points in the game, including the last six points for La Salle. Before scoring off the inbounds, he had collared two offensive rebounds that led to scoring opportunities for him late in the final period.
"I don't think it was really just me," said Perkins. "I think everyone did a good job of moving the ball around, and the ball just happened to end up in my hands."
The win was just La Salle's first of the season after losing to Far Eastern University (FEU) and Ateneo in their first two games, although Sauler said it was too early for them to celebrate. He was pleased with his team's defensive effort in the game, limiting NU to only 55 points after allowing FEU and Ateneo to score over 80.
"We just have to toughen up defensively, especially in the end game," said Sauler.