Role player Gian Abrigo, benched for the first three quarters, was sent in the ballgame as a wildcard as an alternative for the erratic small forwards of Adamson University.
To the surprise of De La Salle University, the braided defensive specialist relentlessly attacked the Adamson basket against the defense of their elite players Jeron Teng, Norbert Torres, and Jason Perkins, scoring ten points in the final period and sparking a 21-4 insurrection coming to the final seconds.
Erstwhile down by 17 and later trimmed to two, 65-67, in the final 40 seconds, the unfortunate happened for the late game hero.
Jockeying for position against Torres in a La Salle sideline inbound at the 16 second mark, a whistle blew and referee Francisco Olivar signaled for a foul against Abrigo.
Replays showed an apparent elbow from Abrigo against his burly foe, who did not flinch an inch in the purported contact. Olivar called it an unsportsmanlike foul against Abrigo. Torres swished his freebies, and split his subsequent free throws, as his Green Archers escaped with a 70-67 victory.
The green side sighed–another last quarter breakdown and this time, it was averted by that call and their made free throws. The blue side broke down in anger, sarcastically clapping Olivar as their crowd chanted in unison that the game, in their view, was rigged.
Indeed, it must have been a secured win for La Salle from the very beginning. They were up by as much as 17 in the second, third, and fourth. Six of their best players scored in spurts to negate Adamson’s run.
The Falcons tried their best to trim down the lead in the first three quarters. Celedonio Trollano, Jr. hustled for his points in the first quarter, big men Rodney Brondial and Ingrid Sewa shared inside scoring in the second, and Roider Cabrera fired seven points in the third but the lead was still at double digits coming in the fourth.
But the insertion of Abrigo pumped life for the comatosed Falcons.
Accompanied by a ragtag five that included third string point guard Axel Inigo and Trollano, Abrigo showed moves he’s never shown before in an actual game, unnerving the Green Archer defense. His energy infected Inigo, Trollano, and star player Jericho Cruz, as the quarter attacked the basket from all angles.
After Abrigo trickled in his two free throws at the 1:20 mark, the game was suddenly tied at 65. But the breaks of the game turned its back against the upsurging Falcons. As a result, both teams are now tied at 3-3 in a logjam with the University of the East and National University.
As expected, Adamson head coach Leo Austria dubbed Olivar’s call as a “bad judgment” on his part. On the other hand, La Salle head coach Juno Sauler in his normal monotone accepted that win as it is.
The game reaffirmed the popular perception that this season’s UAAP hoops action is an open race. A wild storm is on the horizon for collegiate basketball this coming weekend.
UST grabs fourth win, keeps UP at the bottom
In the first game, the undermanned University of Santo Tomas five did their experimentation and paced their fatigued stars as last season’s runners-up thumped the winless and short-handed University of the Philippines, 79-69.
The Growling Tigers were lifted by their star frontline Kevin Ferrer, Karim Abdul, and Aljon Mariano in the first three quarters and in the final canto, spitfire Clark Bautista did his thing, firing ten of his 12 points in the quarter.
“Tine-testing natin kung sinong pwedeng makatulong sa mga starters namin,” said UST head coach Pido Jarencio after the game. “Sakto yung pagputok ni Tata (Bautista) para may kompyansa sya against sa Ateneo.”
The Tigers, who currently stand at 4-2, are now at solo second place. They were led by Mariano with 18 points, Ferrer with 16 points and ten rebounds, and Abdul with 14 points and eight boards.
The Maroons (0-6), playing without starting center and leading rebounder Raul Soyud due to a one-game suspension, were led by the solo scoring effort of Sam Marata, who scored 16 points.
|UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
||69 – 79||UNIVERSITY OF SANTO TOMAS
|Quarters: 15-21, 31-35, 48-56, 69-79|
|Marata – 16
Ball – 11
Asilum – 3
|Mariano – 18
Ferrer – 10
Daquioag – 3
||67 –70||DE LA SALLE UNIVERSITY|
|Quarters: 7-18, 22-35, 42-55, 67-70|
|Trollano – 14
Trollano – 11
Cruz – 3
|N. Torres – 13
Perkins – 13
Teng – 5