|La Salle's Jeron Teng dribbles past Matthew Cabigas of Adamson during Thursday's UAAP men's basketball. The Archers won, 72-59. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) The De La Salle University Green Archers are assured of at least a playoff for a Final Four slot after defeating the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, 72-59, in the UAAP Season 75 men's basketball tournament Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Leading Rookie of the Year candidate Jeron Teng showed off his all-around game after tallying 19 points, nine assists and four rebounds, while Norbert Torres finished with a double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds.
The Archers wound up with an elimination round record of 9-5 and will now await the result of the re-play between the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws and the National University (NU) Bulldogs on September 23.
"I want to commend our boys for doing a good job," said La Salle head coach Gee Abanilla, whose players struggled with injury issues throughout the season. "Despite all the injuries we had, all the distractions, we managed to have a 9-5 record and that's a real good feat for us."
"The boys sacrificed a lot this victory, pinag-usapan nga namin na our destiny is in our own hands," he added. "Nagawa na namin ang dapat naming gawin."
"We will just wait for the Sunday game and see where it takes us."
After leading by six, 27-21, at the half, the Archers stepped on the gas in the third period. Almond Vosotros led La Salle's charge with back-to-back three-pointers midway through the quarter, while Torres had his way inside the paint.
Two free throws from rookie point guard Thomas Torres made it 46-31 with 38 seconds to go in the quarter, before the Falcons made a quick rally to make it 37-46.
But Torres drained a three-pointer at the buzzer, allowing the Archers to go ahead by 12 going into the final period.
The fourth quarter saw Adamson try to fight back behind Roider Cabrera, who took control offensively after Eric Camson fouled out midway through the period.
The Falcons were able to get as close as eight points, but shot themselves in the foot by committing useless fouls that allowed La Salle to get easy points from the line.
Cabrera finished with 17 points to lead the Falcons, while Camson, who played the final game of his UAAP career, wound up with only four points in a listless performance.
Despite the victory, Abanilla said his players still lacked the maturity to put away teams.
"For some stretch, the killer instinct is not there," he said. "We were complacent in some parts. We had a good lead and did not manage it very well."
Regardless of the result of the Sunday game between FEU and NU, the Archers have assured themselves of at least a knockout game for the last slot in the Final Four.
If the Bulldogs win, they will get the third spot by virtue of a higher quotient and La Salle will play FEU for the last Final Four spot.
But if the Tams win, La Salle will automatically get the last berth.
"If it's an automatic seat in the Final Four, mas masaya siguro kami," said Abanilla. "Katulad ng sabi ko, at least, one foot nasa loob na. Hindi namin masabi kung ano 'yung destiny namin."
Should they make the Final Four, the Archers will face archrival Ateneo in the semi-finals. They lost both games to the Blue Eagles in the elimination round.
"Siguro, beggars can't be choosers," Abanilla said. "Kung 'yan talaga ang tadhana mo, at least ang sabi naman bilog ang bola. Ateneo is a strong team, but there's always a chance."
Adamson finished the season in sixth place with a 3-11 record.
DLSU 72 - Teng 19, N. Torres 12, T. Torres 11, Vosotros 8, Van Opstal 5, Andrada 5, Webb 2, Mendoza 4, Revilla 4, Manguera 0
ADU 59 - Cabrera 17, Etrone 15, Rios 7, Cruz 6, Brondial 6, Monteclaro 4, Camson 4, Trollano 0, Petilos 0, Olalia 0, Deans 0, Cabigas 0, Agustin 0
Quarter scoring: 17-8, 27-21, 49-37, 72-59