De La Salle University continues to be the ghost that Adamson can’t seem to vanquish.
The Taft-based Green Archers notched their seventh straight win against Franz Pumaren’s Soaring Falcons by edging their foes in a thrilling overtime win, 79-78, on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
This was a fact that wasn’t lost on coach Louie Gonzales, who noted that they knew how to counter their foes’ defense since they played a similar brand of basketball.
“Siguro pareho kami ng ginagawa,” he observed. “We go through run-and-jump, full-court defense. Siguro if you do that every day, dapat alam mo rin paano dapat i-counter.”
Indeed, La Salle had answers down the stretch against an Adamson squad that looked poised to take the victory after mounting a five-point lead, 64-59, with under three minutes left in the game. Leonard Santillan fired a trey to cut the lead to just two, 64-62, before a clutch floater from Aljun Melecio with 13 seconds left tied the game and forced overtime.
In the extra period, the team relied on the trio of Melecio, Kib Montalbo and Justine Baltazar as they unleashed a 9-0 run to take a 73-64 lead.
They later stifled a late effort from Jerrick Ahanmisi and Sean Manganti to finish the first round of the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball tournament at fourth place with a 4-3 win-loss record.
“I’m proud of my players kasi to counter that, you have to be mentally tough, you have to be really disciplined, to counter that kind of defense. Tapos pag nagkamali ka lang, gaano kakonting mistake lang yun, biglang nagkaroon ng 10-point lead na,” Gonzales said.
Melecio paced the team with 22 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal, while Santillan put up 16 points on an efficient 6-for-8 clip to go along with his nine rebounds and three assists.
They can’t rest on their laurels, though, as the fight for a Final Four slot looks to be even tighter come second round. The first round was littered with unpredictable outcomes, after all.
Gonzales is aware of this, and he’s positive that his boys are where they want to be moving forward.
“I think we’re right on track. Ang unang hiningi ko sa kanila is we finish the first round, doon tayo sa upper half ng standings, at least we’re there doon sa may chance tayo for the Final Four. Then alam naman natin, second round, it’s like all cards are given, all cards are out, eto na yung kung gaano na katatag players mo, kung gaano katatag na yung sistema mo,” he said.”
DLSU (79) – Melecio 22, Santillan 16, Baltazar 16, Caracut 8, Montalbo 8, Serrano 5, Bates 2, Manuel 2, Dyke 0, Go 0.
ADU (78) – Ahanmisi 27, Manganti 23, Sarr 9, Catapusan 5, Camaho 4, Lastimosa 3, Espeleta 2, Colonia 2, Bernardo 2, Magbuhos 1, Pingoy 0, Mojica 0.