La Salle's Jeron Teng goes to the basket against UST. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) A short-handed La Salle squad pulled away late in the final quarter to defeat the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers, 83-70, in a rematch of the UAAP Season 76 Finals Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The defending champions Green Archers have now won five consecutive games to end the first round of the UAAP Season 77 men's basketball tournament with a 5-2 record.
Jeron Teng led the way for La Salle with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Jason Perkins overcame foul trouble to finish with 15 points and nine rebounds.
It was a solid victory for a La Salle team that was still playing without injured point guard Thomas Torres, as well as starting center Arnold Van Opstal. They also briefly lost Norbert Torres in the first half due to a cut on a finger, then point guard Kib Montalbo had to be carried out of the court in the third period after getting kicked in the left calf. He was later diagnosed with a pulled muscle.
"We got big minutes from those coming of the bench today," said La Salle coach Juno Sauler after the game. "Not just offensively, but when Norbert got injured, we had to ask Yutien (Andrada) to come in."
In their place, rookies Paolo Rivero, Julian Sargent and Abu Tratter stepped up, especially in the final period when Tratter and Sargent were the recipient of good passes and showed off their athleticism with strong finishes around the basket.
"Julian played an all-around game -- he had to defend (Kevin) Ferrer. Robert (Bolick) was also there to defend and to give Almond (Vosotros) some minutes on the bench because of Kib's injury," said Sauler.
"So the second group gave a good account of themselves," he added.
It was a close contest until the end of the third canto, with the score tied at 50-all. But La Salle broke away with a 9-0 run at the end of the frame, capped by a triple from Bolick that made it 59-51 entering the fourth quarter.
The Tigers kept the deficit to single digits with 3:32 left in the final frame, 70-62, off free throw by Karim Abdul. But La Salle went ona a 7-2 scoring run, capped by a Perkins triple, that gave the defending champions a 13-point lead, 77-64, with less than two minutes to go.
UST would not threaten from that point on, with free throws by Perkins and Almond Vosotros keeping the Tigers at bay.
Sauler noted that the Archers are "growing coming into the second round" but is hopeful that his team can get healthier, especially as they are now down to just nine players with back-up guard Terence Mustre also injured.
"I don't even know how to practice 5-on-5. I'll probably ask Coach Allan (Caidic) to practice," he joked.
The Tigers kept in step with the defending champions in the first half, thanks to swingman Louie Vigil, who scored 16 points in the first two quarters alone, making six of his nine field goal attempts.
The score was tied 35-all at halftime, with Vigil nailing back-to-back three-pointers at the end of the second frame only to see Vosotros respond with a trifecta of his own to keep the score tied.
Vigil cooled down in the second half, however, as he would score only three more points to finish with 19 markers. Aljon Mariano had a team-high 20 points to continue his solid play, but once again, it came in a losing effort.
UST now has a 3-3 win-loss record, having lost back-to-back games following a three-game winning streak.
DLSU 83 - Teng 22, Perkins 15, Rivero 12, Sargent 10, Vosotros 9, Bolic 5, Tratter 4, Andrada 4, Torres 2, Montalbo 0.
UST 70 - Mariano 20, Vigil 19, Ferrer 11, Abdul 10, Pe 6, Sheriff 4, Daquioag 0, Subido 0, Lao 0, Lo 0, Macasaet 0, Dela Cruz 0.
Quarter-scoring: 17-15, 35-35, 59-51, 83-70