UAAP: La Salle snaps UP's winning streak to boost Final 4 bid

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 20 2022 08:42 PM | Updated as of Nov 20 2022 09:28 PM

The University of the Philippines (UP) and De La Salle University (DLSU) battle during the second round of the UAAP season 85 men's basketball in Pasay City on November 20, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
La Salle's Michael Phillips dunks against the UP Fighting Maroons during the second round of the UAAP season 85 men's basketball in Pasay City on November 20, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) De La Salle University registered a crucial 82-80 victory over the University of the Philippines on Sunday evening, boosting their chances of making the Final 4 in the UAAP Season 85 men's basketball tournament.

The Green Archers snapped the Fighting Maroons' seven-game winning streak and handed the defending champions their first loss of the second round. They got a massive performance from rookie forward Kevin Quiambao, who scored 13 of his 18 points in the final quarter and hit clutch free throws in the final 11 seconds to seal the win. 

This was the second straight victory for the Green Archers, who improved to 5-6 in the season to tie Adamson University at fourth place. They also denied UP the chance to secure at least a playoff for a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals.

"I'm proud of the way we played today," said La Salle coach Derick Pumaren, whose wards fended off the Fighting Maroons' furious fightback in the last minute of the contest. 

"We got down by 10, 12 points, but we still regrouped," he added. "At the start of the game, I told them that we can beat UP, but we can beat them only if we play as a team, have that collective effort, with everybody contributing."

"I'm proud of the way the guys played, they hung tough in there. It was a collective effort for us today."

The Green Archers trailed by as much as 12 points, 49-37, in the third quarter after a Carl Tamayo slam dunk. But they got big three-pointers from Mark Nonoy to fuel their comeback, and they trailed by just four points, 63-59, heading into the final quarter.

It was back-and-forth from there, with UP knotting the count at 69 off a James Spencer three-pointer midway through the period. But the Fighting Maroons committed a host of turnovers at that point that allowed La Salle to pull away. Quiambao was instrumental in the 10-0 scoring blast, drilling a clutch jumper and a putback before two free throws by Nonoy gave the Green Archers a 79-69 lead with 1:13 to play.

UP refused to go away easily, however. A three-point play by JD Cagulangan slashed the lead to seven points, 79-72, and UP forced turnovers on Nonoy and Earl Abadam to get the ball back with 26 seconds left. Zavier Lucero's three-pointer kept UP in the game, 79-75, and Quiambao made just one of two free throws to leave the door open for the Fighting Maroons.

That led to Cagulangan's booming triple that the guard banked off the glass with 12.5 seconds left, sending the UP crowd into a frenzy as they trailed by just two points, 80-78. Fortunately for La Salle, Quiambao was calm on the other end as he knocked down clutch charities off a Tamayo foul to put the Green Archers ahead by four, 82-78.

Malick Diouf's layup beat the buzzer but it did not impact the result, as the Green Archers secured a confidence-boosting win with three games left in their schedule.

Nonoy contributed 15 points and CJ Austria had 10, while Evan Nelle tallied nine points and seven assists. Abadam was huge off the bench, scoring eight points including some crucial makes in the fourth quarter.

Lucero top-scored for UP with 15 points, while Tamayo had 14 points and seven boards but was mostly out-played by Quiambao -- his high school teammate -- on both ends down the stretch. 

The defending champions dropped to 10-2 in the tournament.

The Scores:
-- Quiambao 18, Nonoy 15, Austria 10, Nelle 9, M. Phillips 8, Abadam 8, B. Phillips 5, Nwankwo 5, Macalalag 4, Estacio 0, Cortez 0.
UP 80 -- Lucero 15, Tamayo 14, Spencer 12, Diouf 11, Cagulangan 8, Alarcon 8, Gonzales 4, Galinato 4, Calimag 4, Abadiano 0, Ramos 0.
Quarters: 14-18, 35-41, 59-63, 82-80.