It was a classic shootout, the reigning best player of the UAAP going head to head with the league’s super rookie in a duel that needed two extra periods to decide a winner.
Jeron Teng and Bobby Ray Parks both scored career-highs of 35 points each, but in the end, Teng’s De La Salle Green Archers came out on top, 87-86, over Parks’ National U Bulldogs in a double-overtime thriller in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Teng, the rookie sensation out of Xavier, shot 14-of-24 from the field, including a crucial triple in the second overtime that gave the Archers a six-point lead, as he became the first La Salle player to score at least 30 points since Joseph Yeo poured in 31 on September 24, 2003.
Parks registered the fourth 30-plus-point game in his young UAAP career, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the gritty Archers, who blew two chances to win the game outright at the end of regulation and the first overtime but finally held off the Bulldogs in the second extension period.
[SLIDESHOW: Photos from the game and presscon ]
Teng’s output was the highest for a rookie fresh out of high school since UP’s Mike Gamboa scored 25 points in 2007. It was the first time that two players had at least 30 points each in the same game since the league’s current statistics provider took over in 2003.
The result allowed DLSU to tie NU at 4-3 at the end of the first round, with the Green Archers officially finishing fourth via the winner-over-the-other rule.
“We’re very happy about this win,” said a visibly relieved DLSU head coach Gee Abanilla. “We were telling the boys that we cannot afford to be left behind. We have to be within striking distance. It was a good win for us.”
La Salle was ahead for most of the match and looked poised to take full control when Parks had to sit down after picking up his fourth foul with 4:28 left in the third period and DLSU ahead 54-45. The Archers added three more points to their lead, and with Emmanuel Mbe joining Parks on the bench, things looked bleak for the Bulldogs.
But with role players Jeth Troy Rosario, Robin Rono and Glenn Khobuntin leading the way, NU dropped a 16-5 bomb bridging the third and fourth periods to creep to within one at 62-61 with 4:58 left as the Archers suddenly couldn’t penetrate the Bulldogs’ zone defense.
Big man Norbert Torres, ineffective for most of the game, came alive with back-to-back baskets to give DLSU more breathing room at 66-61, but Parks scored six straight points to give NU their first lead since the first period with only 47 seconds left.
Yutien Andrada scored underneath off a feed from Torres, and after Parks missed a triple, Almond Vosotros split his charities to give DLSU a 69-67 edge with only 8.2 ticks left. Rushing downcourt, Parks found Rosario all alone under the basket, and the six-foot-seven junior tied it up with only seven-tenths of a second remaining.
Vosotros missed a turnaround jumper at the buzzer, and the game headed into overtime.
The first extra period featured highlight plays by Parks and Teng. First, with DLSU leading 73-69, the reigning MVP shook off Teng, drove hard to the basket and unleashed a powerful one-handed slam over Arnold Van Opstal, who had to turn his back in mid-air to avoid a painful collision.
Then after the Bulldogs came to within one at 75-76, Teng hit a big triple to beat the shot clock and give the Archers a four-point lead with only 1:01 left. But NU wouldn’t go away, with Parks scoring four straight points to tie it up anew at 79 with 18.5 seconds left.
DLSU again had the last shot, but Andrada muffed an open jumper to force the Archers into their second overtime game of the season.
Vosotros and Teng both hit triples to give DLSU an 85-79 lead, which proved to be enough of a cushion down the stretch as the Bulldogs came up empty on several offensive thrusts that could have brought them to within one. Vosotros split his free throws with five ticks left to make it 87-83, and Parks hit a meaningless triple at the buzzer for the final score.
For Abanilla, it was a relief to come out on the winning end this time after falling in double-overtime to UST two weeks ago.
“It’s a good learning experience for them,” said the first-year coach. “The composure, I was really happy because all or games are close games. This special group of boys just hung tough.”
Two of La Salle’s three losses have been by two points, while three of their four wins have been by four points or less.
“Madaming pang kailangang ayusin,” said Abanilla when asked about his team’s first-round performance. “Siguro number 1 would be maturity. I just feel that all our games, kahit papaano may pag-asang manalo. I just hope we learn from this. NU is a really good team, and I just hope that somehow beating NU by one point will really boost their confidence.”