The Games that Play Us: You Can’t Catch Me

Simon Atkins and the Archers just couldn't catch
Jeric Fortuna and the Tigers.
(image by Andrew Pamorada/

UST Growling Tigers over the DLSU Green Archers, 60-52

With under 20 seconds left in the game, Jeric Fortuna managed to grab a defensive rebound and dribble the length of the court. Two Green Archers were in hot pursuit of the former Zobel Junior Archer, but Fortuna was too fast, too furious, to be caught. He laid the rock in the hole with 14 ticks to go to ensure that UST would cement an important win over La Salle.

It was the Tigers’ first UAAP triumph against the Greenies in 4 years, and their 5th win of Season 74.

It might also be the win that gives them the final Final Four berth.

Yes, I know the UAAP is painfully unpredictable. Yes, with each team still having about 4 games left, I know anything can happen. And yes, I know funnier things have happened than a 4-win 6-loss team miraculously barging into the Final Four by winning all of its remaining games.

But considering the complexion of the past weeks, and how both La Salle and UST have played lately, and, to a certain extent, how all the other teams have played as well, we will probably see a Season 74 semis cast composed of the current top four teams in the standings (that’s Ateneo, Adamson, FEU & UST).

Jeric Teng and Pido Jarencio might have just
clinched the last ticket to the Final Four.
(image by Andrew Pamorada/
And, besides, implying “La Salle won’t make it this season” sounds like a better discussion-starter.

Speaking of starters, where were the DLSU starters in this one? Coach Dindo Pumaren’s first five combined for just 19 points in all, compared to the 38 of UST – and that’s with Jeric Fortuna making just 2 field goals all game! It seems LA Revilla has faded, Simon Atkins continues to shoot blanks, Maui Villanueva is still inconsistent and Arnold Van Opstal just can’t break out. The last guy from their starters, Joshua Webb, played just 5 minutes, grabbing 2 boards and not doing much else.

Both squads didn’t really shoot that well, but all throughout the game the Tigers managed to hit the bigger shots. Chris Camus and Melo Afuang carried the brunt of the fight for most of the game before the two Jerics sealed the deal in the last stanza. Jeric Teng hit a couple of treys and Fortuna converted his only two made field goals within the last 10 minutes to help coach Pido Jarencio fend off the emerald rally and ice the triumph.

UST was able to fend off La Salle's late rally.
(image by Andrew Pamorada/
But the starters’ performance alone wasn’t the culprit in this latest chapter in what is fast becoming La Salle’s Season 74 tragedy. The Archers still could’ve won this one. Many things were going for them. Fortuna was 0-14 before the fourth quarter. Teng was tagged with his fourth foul early in the third canto. Kevin Ferrer couldn’t get his offense going, and Karim Abdul failed to dominate beyond the first quarter. By those indications, it was DLSU’s game to lose.

One of the main keys was rebounding, and here is where the Tigers deserve tons of credit. For a team that isn’t exactly the tallest amongst the lot, UST has done extremely well collaring those caroms. I believe that, as a team, they are tops in that department. It’s a credit to their positioning, boxing out, athleticism, and, quite simply, their all-out hustle. They pummeled La Salle on the boards, 57-38. They had 15 more offensive boards than the Archers, which when coupled with 5 more steals, translated to 18 more field goal attempts.

Still, despite those things, Gang Green still could’ve ended up celebrating instead of lamenting.

A familiar bane, however, reared its ugly head again – ATROCIOUS free-throw shooting. DLSU had 26 attempts from the line. How many did they make? Less than half. Just 12 to be exact. The chief culprit? Norbert Torres, who muffed 6 of his 10 freebies. Clearly, at least from the last few games, the Archers aren’t built for the big time just yet.

Norbert Torres missed a ton of free-throws, and
a couple of gimmes near the basket.
(image by Andrew Pamorada/
But a win could change everything, and no win right now could be bigger than if they manage to upset the erstwhile undefeated Blue Eagles on Sunday. Will it happen? The odds are stacked against the Taft quintet, but, as they say, when it’s an Ateneo-La Salle affair, everything goes out the window. Another loss, though, could prevent the Green & White from ever catching up with UST.

And as for the Tigers? If they go on and make the Final Four, then this win is the one that turned the tide in their favor, and they can further improve on their standing by beating the overachieving Warriors in a few days.

UST 60 – Teng 14, Camus 10, Afuang 10, Abdul 9, Fortuna 8, Ferrer 6, Lo 2, Ungria 1, Pe 0, Sheriff 0, Tan 0, Vigil 0
DLSU 52 – Marata 11, Revilla 8, Vosotros 8, Van Opstal 6, Tampus 6, Torres 4, Atkins 3, Villanueva 2, dela Paz 2, Mendoza 2, Webb 0, Paredes 0
QS: 15-13, 30-21, 44-38, 60-52

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