The Games that Play Us: Cardiac (pronounced carjack) Ballgame

Coach Pido Jarencio's heart rate certainly spiked
during this nail-biter.
(image by Joseph Nebrida/
DLSU Green Archers over the UST Growling Tigers, 74-71

Whenever a game goes down-the-wire, I always remember those famous words from former PBA play-by-play commentator Chino Trinidad.

“We have a carjack ballgame!”

Ano raw?

Ah, cardiac.

It was an insanely amusing and, at the same time, appropriate description of any basketball game that would be decided in the dying moments. Commentators, fans, players, coaches – their stress levels would all rise, veins showing at the side of their foreheads, the right words hard to come by, heart-rates spiking. Cardiac indeed.

And, man oh man, this was one for the books.

It was a game between four different teams, this one.

Wait, four?

Yes. The DLSU and UST teams of the first half make up the first two. And then the DLSU and UST teams of the second half make up the last two. What DLSU was in the first 20 minutes, UST was in the last. And vice-versa.

And the Archers scraped by, with the help of clutch shooting, Jeric Fortuna’s cramps, and a pivotal lapse in boxing out by UST.

It stared out as a yawner, though, with La Salle getting the jump on a strange UST starting five (Kent Lao & Kim Lo BOTH starting?), and not looking back until the half. The Archers’ offensive engine was clicking on all cylinders, and their defense was working its stifling magic on the streaky Tigers. It seemed like Gang Green could go out for a couple of pints and just return for their school song.

If they did, however, then they would’ve missed a hell of a comeback from coach Pido Jarencio’s boys.

Behind Karim Abdul and the two Jerics, the Tigers clawed (how apt!) their way back into relevance. Did DLSU relax? Did their momentum get stymied by the injury to Simon Atkins? Or will it be another exemplar of the “free-throw disparity” conspiracy (UST was +13 on FT attempts)?

Karim Abdul helped UST get back in the game after
trailing by as much as 23.
(image by Joseph Nebrida/
UST just played a lot better come the 2nd half. It was a different team. And, oh yes, the zone helped put the clamps on DLSU. It was a brilliant tactical move for Jarencio, who’s more known as a motivator than a tactician, allowing the Black & Gold fans enough reason to stay behind and cheer.

And save for some bungled chances in the dying minutes, UST could’ve produced this year’s most dramatic turnaround. It was a good thing then for DLSU that shooters Luigi dela Paz and Sam Marata hit their shots in the fourth, and that Norbert Torres continued to hold fort down low.

Norbert Torres was solid as a rock for the Archers.
(image by Joseph Nebrida/
Good thing, too, that sophomore Jarelan Tampus was composed enough to go rebound his missed free-throw rather than simply watch from 15 feet away. Perhaps boxing out will be on the menu for UST’s next practice.

Worth noting, too, is how, in contrast to their game against Adamson, the Archers enjoyed more breaks in crunch time – Fortuna cramped up and Abdul fouled out just in the nick of time.

So La Salle gets to enjoy the 4th spot at least until they clash with the Falcons again. One thing to think about, however, is that people still cannot get a grasp on coach Dindo Pumaren’s rotation scheme, which, amusingly enough, might work for them since it makes them so unpredictable (maybe he bases it on the horoscope?). I feel for Yutien Andrada, though, since he played a paltry amount of minutes after performing really well in their last few outings.

As for UST, they fall to 5th, but they have a strong chance to redeem themselves when they tangle with UP on Sunday. What they have to remember is that though their second half surge was surely impressive, the hole they dug for themselves in the first half was just too much. If UST can play the way they did in the last 20 minutes of this match for one whole game, then they can beat anybody, cardiac ballgame or not. Provided, of course, that they box out.

Jarelan Tampus's big offensive board, and consequent,
free-throws ensured La Salle's escape act.
(image by Joseph Nebrida/
DLSU 74 – Torres 21, Tampus 14, Villanueva 10, dela Paz 8, Marata 6, Atkins 6, Van Opstal 5, Revilla 2, Vosotros 2, Mendoza 0, Andrada 0, Gotladera 0
UST 71– Abdul 21, Fortuna 20, Teng 14, Camus, Afuang 4, Ferrer 3, Lo 2, Lao 0, Pe 0, Sheriff 0, Ungria 0, Tan 0, Vigil 0
QS: 26-14, 49-27, 56-44, 74-71
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1 Comment

I was surprised how DLSU came away with the win without LA's heroics this time around.