La Salle rallies past UST in OT to win 8th UAAP crown
The La Salle Green Archers would not be denied in their bid to take the throne as they rallied from a 15-point deficit in the third period to stun the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, 71-69, in overtime in the deciding Game Three of the UAAP Season 76 finals Saturday night at the packed Mall of Asia Arena.
“Like what I’ve been saying, it’s not about winning the ball game, it’s about improving day by day,” said DLSU head coach Juno Sauler, who remained stoic despite winning the title in just his first year running the sidelines.
“I told them to start the game, it will boil down to every possession. Knowing there’s still time, we have to slug it out.”
Shifty guard Almond Vosotros made the game-winning jumper with 19.7 seconds left as the Archers completed a frantic comeback from a 25-40 deficit in the third period, to emerge as champions, a feat they have not accomplished since 2007. The championship was also their eighth in the league.
The Tigers held the lead for the last time at 69-67 after Jeric Teng hit a fadeaway jumper from the baseline over the arms of Vosotros. However, the younger Teng, Jeron, was fouled and hit the first before missing the second free-throw with the rebound being tracked down by UST forward Aljon Mariano.
Under pressure, Mariano threw an ill-advised pass that sailed away to the sideline. The Archers quickly took advantage as the ball went Vosotros’ way and the veteran guard faked a shot, dribbled once and rose up to swish the go-ahead basket.
On UST’s next offensive, Karim Abdul forced up a shot and missed, leading to a single free-throw make by La Salle’s LA Revilla, with 9.1 seconds remaining.
Abdul missed a three-point attempt as time expired, signaling the start of La Salle’s championship celebration.
Jeron Teng was named as the Finals MVP after scoring 25 points and adding eight rebounds and six assists. Vosotros finished with 16 points.
The loss was a tough pill to swallow for UST as they led, 40-25, after a sizzling run led by Jeric Teng. But La Salle got back into the game behind a 22-8 run that sliced the deficit to just one, 47-48, heading to the final period.
Karim Abdul top-scored with 26 points for the Tigers, who failed to become the first fourth seed to win the crown. /With inquirer.net
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