MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) University of the East capped a resurgent campaign in the UAAP Season 85 men's basketball tournament by stunning De La Salle University, 80-72, in overtime on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Red Warriors are already out of the running for a spot in the Final 4, but they still found a way to impact the playoff race. The loss kept the Green Archers from tying Adamson University at the fourth spot, and put them in a must-win situation in their final elimination round game on Wednesday.
Moreover, UE completed a sweep of La Salle in the elimination round of Season 85. The Red Warriors had also pulled off a shocker over the Green Archers, 81-74, when they played in the first round last October 12 behind a career-best effort from Kyle Paranada.
This time, it was rookie guard Rey Remogat who starred for the Red Warriors. He fired 20 of his career-best 24 points in the second half, while also drilling the dagger three-pointer with 46.1 seconds left in overtime and celebrating with Stephen Curry's now-iconic "night-night" gesture.
"Ito naman 'yung pinakamasarap eh, 'yung alam mo na sinusunod 'yung instruction," said UE head coach Jack Santiago, as they ended their UAAP Season 85 campaign with a 5-9 win-loss record.
"We had a light practice [yesterday] kasi we're out of contention already. Isa lang ang sinabi ko sa mga bata nag-request ako na kung pwede ba nilang i-regalo ito sa akin 'yung last game," he added.
The Red Warriors fulfilled their coach's wish, erasing a 12-point deficit to go toe-to-toe with the Green Archers in the second half. They trailed 68-64 with 1:25 left after La Salle's Mark Nonoy nailed back-to-back three-pointers, but Remogat fueled their comeback by drilling a midrange jumper then finding Paranda for the game-tying layup with 30 seconds to play.
La Salle couldn't find a winner in the final possession, with Evan Nelle bricking a three-pointer. But the Green Archers surged to a quick 72-68 lead in overtime thanks to back-to-back baskets from Raven Cortez and Nelle.
It was Paranada who swung the momentum in UE's favor, as he knocked down a jump shot and then a crucial three-pointer that gave them the lead for good, 73-72, with 2:39 to play. Two free throws by Remogat with 1:19 left pushed the lead to three, 75-72, and the Red Warriors came up with a huge stop in the next possession when Gani Stevens poached the ball from Kevin Quiambao.
That led to Remogat's back-breaking triple that made it a two-possession game, 78-72, and La Salle couldn't respond on the other end as Nelle missed another three-pointer. Two free throws by one-and-done forward Luis Villegas with 15.5 seconds left pegged the final score.
"Nag-commit sila sa akin yesterday, and ginawa naman nila talaga, ayaw nila magpatalo," a beaming Santiago said of his players.
Paranada finished with 13 points, while Villegas closed his UAAP career with a superb all-around effort of 10 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists. Stevens concluded his rookie season with 12 points and nine rebounds.
It was a costly defeat for the Green Archers, who dropped to 6-7 and must now defeat UST on Wednesday and hope for an Ateneo victory over Adamson University to force a playoff for a spot in the Final 4. As it stands, the Soaring Falcons have the inside track on the last semis berth.
Nonoy led La Salle with 14 points, while Bright Nwankwo had 10 points and nine rebounds. The Green Archers were without Michael Phillips (non-COVID-related illness) for the game; Schonny Winston made a 16-second cameo to end the contest.
UE 80 -- Remogat 24, K. Paranada 13, Stevens 12, Villegas 10, N. Paranada 6, Gilbuena 5, Pagsanjan 4, Sawat 4, Payawal 2, Tulabut 0, Alcantara 0.
LA SALLE 72 -- Nonoy 14, Austria 10, Nwankwo 10, Nelle 8, Cortez 8, Macalalag 8, Quiambao 7, B. Phillips 4, Estacio 3, Abadam 0.
Quarters: 16-27, 36-33, 50-51, 68-68, 80-72.