The Games That Play Us: Changing Fortunes

Clark Bautista had the hot hand as UST prevailed in
two overtimes against DLSU.


Instant classic. That’s the only way to describe this game.

This game had so many ups and downs that anyone faint of heart would have had to step out for danger of cardiac arrest.

One of the biggest things, of course, was Clark Bautista shooting the lights out. By the 3:34 mark of the third period, he had hit his sixth and last three (he was 6-of-7 at that point), which gave him 21 points and helped UST establish a 10-point lead. At that point, it seemed like momentum had permanently swung España’s way. It seemed like La Salle was on its way to its third loss of the season.

And then fortunes changed.

Coach Gee Abanilla sued for time (his second of the quarter) and tried to motivate his players to get back in the game. The thing he did that actually paid off, however, was inserting Joshua Webb. Webb brought his energy and tenacity to the floor, which led to six straight free throw attempts for the former Zobel star. Surprisingly, Webb made all six charities, and these helped the Archers stay within striking distance.

The Tigers’ torrid shooting, however, continued to play a big factor.

With Bautista being shadowed no end by defensive specialist Jed Manguera, Coach Pido Jarencio needed someone else to step up, and this time it was Jeric Teng who caught fire. Teng shot 2 big triples in the fourth period, the first when DLSU threatened at 56-52 and the second after Yutien Andrada tied it all up at 66 with under 3 minutes to go. At that point, it just seemed that the Black & Gold had an answer for every La Salle spurt.

But fortunes changed again as it would take more than 2 minutes before UST scored another basket.

Coach Abanilla’s wards continued to be aggressive, attacking the hole relentlessly. This resulted in 8 free throw attempts in the final 120 seconds for Gang Green. La Salle made good on just 5 of those charities, resulting in a 71-69 lead with less than a minute to go. The Archers had completed their comeback and were on the verge of inflicting only the second loss on the Tigers.

But Fortune had other plans that were made apparent in a wild endgame.

With less than 20 seconds remaining, Aljon Mariano, who was virtually forgotten for the whole match because of his erstwhile anemic 0-for-5 shooting performance, got the ball at the baseline and drove strong against the trees of Taft Avenue. It seemed like he was bottled up pretty tightly, but he managed to twist and squeeze through the defense and deftly drop a reverse lay-up into the hole – tied game with just 12 ticks to go and timeout La Salle. It looked as if Mariano woke up at just the right time to breathe extra life into UST.

And then magic from LA Revilla. In the next play, the diminutive former San Beda Red Cub waved off a Norbert Torres screen and chose to take on Jeric Fortuna one-on-one. After a few dribbles and jukes, Revilla drove strong to the right and heaved a floater. The ball flew high and dropped through the net. The green half of the Mall of Asia Arena erupted in ecstasy as they enjoyed La Salle’s third win in five games.

But fortunes swung again as the replays showed that the ball was released after the clock reached zero. The greenies would have to wait a little longer.

In the extra session, UST quickly set the pace, but this was not because of Bautista, Teng, or Karim Abdul, who had been solid manning the slot for Coach Pido. It was Mariano who came to life, scoring 7 points on 3-of-4 field goal shooting. The former PRADA mainstay of San Beda beat Andrada’s D for a nifty lay-up that gave the España crew an 80-78 lead with less than a minute on the timer. For a moment, it seemed like UST would come out the victor after all, but Norbert “The Bear” Torres drove hard against Abdul in the next possession. He hit a tough running hook that pegged the count at 80-all. Mariano would muff the next possession, and the game went into a second overtime.

It seemed like exhaustion caught up with both teams, though, as the last five minutes (finally!) of the game began. Missed shots abounded before Revilla connected to give DLSU its last taste of the lead, 82-80, with 4 minutes left. Missed shots and turnovers from both sides kept the crowd preoccupied and cringing for the next 3 minutes or so, until Mariano beat Andrada again to tie the count at 82.

UST stood its ground on defense in the next play before Fortuna found Mariano wide open at the right corner for the game-winner with just 7 seconds to go. La Salle would botch its next play as the game finally ended with the Tigers tasting sweet triumph.

Wow. Did you get all that? Again, it was an amazing game. It was almost a sorry sight to see it come to an end, but there had to be a winner, and Coach Pido’s Tigers were all too happy to fill that role.

This win further cements USTe’s status as a solid title contender, and, as of this writing, gives them solo third at 3-1. What makes that really impressive is that they’ve beaten three of the deepest teams in the league (Ateneo, NU, and DLSU), and that they’ve yet to face teams in the bottom half of the standings (Adamson, UE, and UP). This should also give Bautista more confidence going into the next few matches. Before this game, he shot just 22% from beyond the arc, but he has now upped that success rate to 37%. Mariano was also impressive, coming up big when it counted the most. He reminds me of the way Jojo Duncil stepped up repeatedly in Season 69 (2006). Could this be a sign of things to come?

For La Salle, this almost-win should offer a few more lessons, especially for young buck Jeron Teng, who missed a litany of crucial free throws and made a couple of miscues down the stretch. He’s still the top rookie of this season, but he’ll need a lot more growing up if he’s to lead the Archers to more wins. Revilla and Andrada were awesome in this game, but one other guy whom I thought played really well was Webb. The curious thing is Webb was left out for much of the fourth period and the two overtimes. I thought he would’ve been a better match-up defensively for Mariano, but I guess inserting him meant Norbert Torres wouldn’t have any weak side help against Abdul. Needless to say, this is yet another bitter defeat for the Archers, but losses like this should serve them well as they toughen up for the oncoming grind. And, yes, shooting 53% from the line surely hurt – I’m pretty certain even Fortune cannot help much in that department.

LA Revilla gets some love after hitting what seemed like the
game-winner. It was negated after replays showed the
shot wasn't released in time.

Jeron Teng (L) had better stats than his brother,
Jeric (R), but it was the latter who went home with the W.

The UST faithful celebrate their third win as Aljon Mariano
gets hoisted by one of the assistant coaches.


UST 84 – Bautista 21, Abdul 16, Mariano 15, Teng 9, Fortuna 8, Afuang 8, Ferrer 5, Pe 2, Lo 0, Dquioag 0
DLSU 82 – Revilla 19, Teng 17, Andrada 16, Webb 13, Torres N 7, Manguera 6, Van Opstal 2, Tallo 2, Torres T 0, Dela Paz 0
QS: 15-17, 29-30, 56-48, 71-71, 80-80, 84-82
Notable Performers:
Clark Bautista (UST) – 21pts, 6 treys, 5rebs, 3asts, 1stl
Karim Abdul (UST) – 16pts, 16rebs, 3blks, 2asts, 1stl
Yutien Andrada (DLSU) – 16pts, 9rebs, 3stls, 3blks

Next Post »
1 Comment

This was one of those games that basketball camps should have on rotation - 100% puso on display,and proof of why we love the game talaga.