Archers take bark out of Bull­dogs

The Philippine Star - - SPORTS - By OLMIN LEYBA

La Salle fended off a tough chal­lenge by Na­tional U in a fast-paced, high-scor­ing duel between two sides coached by old ri­vals with es­sen­tially sim­i­lar philoso­phies, 115-109, to grab a share of the lead in the UAAP Sea­son 80 men’s bas­ket­ball tour­ney at Smart Araneta Coli­seum yes­ter­day.

Ricci Rivero and Kib Mon­talbo came up big in the stretch as the Archers notched their sec­ond straight win with­out ace slot­man Ben Mbala and joined idle Ate­neo atop the team stand­ings.

“It was a good game. We showed lots of tenac­ity; we were re­silient and com­posed and the play­ers were able to ex­e­cute our plays in the end game,” said DLSU coach Aldin Ayo, who out­smarted his ri­val over at the NCAA, Jamike Jarin, in their first coach­ing matchup in the UAAP.

Rivero pumped in nine of his 21 points in the fi­nal canto, pre­sid­ing over a 13-7 as­sault to end the ex­cit­ing match. Mon­talbo had a cru­cial steal that led to a Prince Rivero bucket off an as­sist from young brother Ricci for a 112-107 cush­ion with 25 sec­onds left.

Ayo took ex­cite­ment in du­el­ing with Jarin again. They pre­vi­ously faced off in the NCAA fi­nals in 2015 with Ayo’s un­der­dog Le­tran get­ting the bet­ter of Jarin’s San Beda that time.

The fa­mil­iar­ity led to a prac­ti­cally back-and-forth af­fair with DLSU en­joy­ing a 10-point lead at one point and NU go­ing up by 11 in the third pe­riod.

“We have the same sys­tem (which is) keep on run­ning. It was like a lawn ten­nis match wit­nessed by spec­ta­tors, where there’s so much run­ning,” said Ayo.

“Coach Jamike is a very good coach. Dur­ing the game, he had a lot of change-ups both on of­fense and de­fense and so many mis­di­rec­tion that I thought I’d run out of tricks. It’s like a chess match with him and you re­ally have to ex­e­cute your plays. Good thing, the play­ers ex­e­cuted our plays in the end game,” added Ayo.

First-year player Jordan Bartlett led NU (1-1) with 23 mark­ers, mak­ing 11 of them in the third where NU seized an 80-69 tear be­fore DLSU coun­tered with a 22-8 as­sault.

Both DLSU (47.73 per­cent) and NU (45.35 per­cent) shot in the high 40s, mak­ing for a com­bined score that was the high­est since Aug. 2006, when the Bull­dogs edged Uni­ver­sity of the Philip­pines, 107-104.

Adam­son bounced back from last week’s 20-point blowout to Ate­neo with an 88-81 vic­tory over an er­ratic Santo To­mas.

Rob­bie Manalang re­gained his shoot­ing touch af­ter a six-point out­put in their 65-85 set­back to the Ea­gles, fir­ing 19 spiked by five triples, while Kurt Lo­jera added 16 as the Fal­cons im­proved to 1-1 and dealt the Tigers, who com­mit­ted 41 er­rors, their sec­ond straight loss.

“We’re a dif­fer­ent team com­pared to last game. We were kind of jit­tery, prob­a­bly be­cause we’re not used to be­ing tagged as one of the fa­vored teams. My play­ers just have to get used to it but should ex­pect no easy games,” said AdU men­tor Franz Pu­maren said.

He lauded the Fal­cons for chok­ing the Tigers to 41 turnovers – the most since FEU’s 44 in 2003 – which they con­verted to 32 mark­ers.

“That’s a tes­ta­ment to our play­ing ag­gres­sive de­fense. That’s the trade­mark of my team, forc­ing other teams to make turnovers and it helped us,” Pu­maren said.

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