|FEU's Terrence Romeo (C) is surrounded by La Salle defenders in the second half of their playoff game in the UAAP Season 76 tournament Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) -- The De La Salle University Green Archers held off a late rally by the Far Easten University to win their playoff game, 74-69, and clinch the second spot in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 76 men's basketball tournament Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
LA Revilla scored a season-high 20 points, including a dagger triple with 55 seconds left, as the Green Archers assured themselves of the twice-to-beat advantage against the Tamaraws in the semi-finals.
Revilla fired six triples in the game, including four in the first half as La Salle seized a 37-27 halftime lead.
He would end up making more triples than the entire FEU team, as the Tamaraws--the best three-point shooting team in the UAAP--shockingly made only five of their 33 attempts from beyond the arc.
As a team, La Salle made 11 of their 32 three-pointers.
"We worked on our shooting last week," said La Salle coach Juno Sauler. "We knew we'd get those kinds of shots, and we were just fortunate that we were making those open shots."
The Green Archers thus need to beat FEU just once more to advance to the UAAP Finals for the first time since Season 71.
Terrence Romeo, the Season 76 MVP, scored 22 points, 19 of which came in the second half. But he had a miserable shooting afternoon and made only one of his 11 attempts from the three-point area.
"We just want to limit the shots that he takes, and if he does take shots, we just want to keep them challenged," Sauler said of their defense on Romeo. "You never know. He'll just keep shooting and once in a while, all of a sudden he starts making them. So we just have to get on Romeo every single time."
La Salle led by double-digits for most of the second half and were ahead 66-51 with a little under eight minutes remaining in the game.
But Romeo and Gryann Mendoza sparked an 11-2 run that brought FEU to within five points, 63-68, with 1:19 remaining in the game.
Unfortunately for the Tamaraws, Jeron Teng found Revilla wide open in the corner, and the veteran guard promptly swished his sixth three-pointer of the contest to extend the lead to 71-63 with just 55 seconds remaining.
FEU still had their chances, with Romeo draining three free throws off a foul from Almond Vosotros. But RR Garcia missed a lay-up and a three-pointer, and Mendoza and Mike Tolomia also misfired from beyond the arc, allowing La Salle's Jason Perkins and Revilla to ice the game at the free throw line.
"We could have done better in the fourth," Sauler admitted. "There was one time where we just needed to get one rebound, and I think three or four times, FEU got the offensive rebound."
"We just have to do a better job of closing games out."
The Green Archers have now won eight consecutive games after finishing the first round with a 3-4 win-loss record.
A victory against FEU on Wednesday will give them a berth in the Finals, where they will play either the top-seeded National University or the University of Santo Tomas.
"We have to shoot the ball better," Sauler said when asked what they need to do on Wednesday. "We have to defend better, we have to play the fourth quarter better and have less turnovers. All basic principles of basketball, we have to do better."
DLSU 74 - Revilla 20, Perkins 14, Teng 13, Van Opstal 6, T. Torres 6, Salem 6, Vosotros 4, N. Torres 3, Tampus 2, De La Paz 0
FEU 69 - Romeo 22, Garcia 16, Belo 9, Tolomia 6, Mendoza 6, Pogoy 4, Hargrove 4, Cruz 2, Sentcheu 0
Quarter-scoring: 18-11, 37-27, 60-49 74-69.