February 28, 2024

La Salle turns tables on UP, forces Game 3 championship decider

La Salle turns tables on UP, forces Game 3 championship decider

The championship of the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament will be decided by a winner-take-all Game 3.

That’s after the La Salle Green Archers’ vengeful 82-60 victory over the UP Fighting Maroons in Game 2 of the finals on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Newly minted MVP Kevin Quiambao flashed his all-around brilliance in the win, contributing nine points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks for La Salle, while point guard Evan Nelle made up for his measly shooting by chipping in 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and five steals.  

The Green Archers simply looked like they wanted Game 2 more, particularly in the middle two quarters, when they seemed a step ahead of the Fighting Maroons—both on offense and on defense. And it showed in La Salle’s rebounding edge, as Mike Phillips, Kevin Quiambao, and the rest of the Green Archers completely outrebounded their counterparts from Katipunan, especially on the offensive glass.

The game was also about the next man up for La Salle, more so given the Game 1 struggles of usual reliables Mark Nonoy and Evan Nelle. Nonoy still struggled on Sunday and Nelle couldn't get his offense humming, but the squad from Taft compensated thanks to timely contributions from other Green Archers.

No one was sharper than Francis Escandor, whose 12 second-quarter points built on four triples helped La Salle turn a 27-24 disadvantage after the first canto to a 44-38 advantage heading into intermission. He finished with a game-high 14 points. 

The Green Archers also got a timely lift from Joshua David, whose back-to-back triples to end the third period gave La Salle a 65-49 cushion to begin the final frame.

And there would be no comeback in this game—not from a UP squad that seemingly could not buy a bucket starting from the second quarter onward. The Fighting Maroons actually clanked its first 11 attempts from the field in the second frame and bricked plenty more afterwards, making it all but impossible for them to mount anything significant.

With La Salle cruising to the win, the champions of the Season 46 men’s basketball will be crowned on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Game time is set at 6 p.m.