KQ and company avenged their first round defeat.
The De La Salle Green Archers completed their second round sweep of UAAP Season 86 after grinding out a tough victory over the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 72-69, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Saturday.
It was a back-and-forth affair between the archrivals, but the Green Archers managed to create timely baskets late in the dying minutes, including clutch free throws, to secure the win.
With the win, La Salle became the first team to secure a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four.
Kevin Quiambao led the way once more for the Topex Robinson-coached Green Archers with 14 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. Mike Phillips added 10 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks.
“Lagi sinasabi ni coach 'yung growth ng team simula nung natalo kami nung UP (Fighting Maroons) nung first round, talagang umangat 'yung (laro namin),” Quiambao said in the postgame press conference.
“Credit 'yan siyempre sa lahat ng teammates ko na binaba 'yung ego nila para sa system ni coach, lalo na ako,” he added.
With their confidence at an all-time high, Quiambao, Phillips, and the rest of the Green Archers will now shift their attention to the semifinals, with the elimination round coming to a close this Sunday.
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“Malayo na pero malayo pa,” said Phillips. “Hopefully, we can use this momentum going into the Final Four because we know it's gonna be a lot of tough matchups and a lot of tough games going ahead.”
La Salle can still finish first in the standings if the NU Bulldogs defeat the Fighting Maroons this Sunday.
Ateneo, meanwhile, will await the result of the game between the Adamson Soaring Falcons and the UE Red Warriors, which will determine who gets the last ticket to the Final Four.
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Catch both games live on One Sports, the UAAP Varsity Channel, and the Pilipinas Live app.
(With reports from Aivan Episcope, One Sports Digital)