Another emotional win for University of the East, another heart-breaking defeat for La Salle.
Ralf Olivares came through with six big points in the final minute as the Red Warriors left the Green Archers completely stunned Saturday with a come-from-behind 85-83 victory–their second straight– in the UAAP Season 76 men’s basketball action at the MOA Arena.
Crafty guard Roi Sumang tallied a team-high 21 points while prized Sierra Leone import Charles Mammie churned out another double-double outing of 19 markers and a game-high 16 rebounds.
But it was the 6-foot-2 Olivares who shone the brightest in the stretch. His two free throws with 46.8 seconds left cut DLSU's lead to just two at 81-79, then after forcing Thomas Torres into a turnover, he hit a huge triple with 42.3 seconds to go to give the Warriors the lead for good at 82-81.
With the big win, UE gained a fitting follow-up to its big 72-68 win over five-time reigning titlist but struggling Ateneo last Wednesday while dealing La Salle its second straight painful setback and third overall in five starts.
Smarting from a jarring 79-83 defeat against pace-setting Far Eastern University last Saturday, the Green Archers suffered yet another blow as they failed to protect a 10-point cushion in the fourth and crumbled anew in the crunch, no thanks to the Olivares-led Red Warriors’ fightback.
Going down the drain with La Salle’s loss was the 26-point explosion of diminutive shooting guard Almond Vosotros.
Jeron Teng had a big second quarter showing, firing away 11 of his 13 markers, but was notably shut down by the Red Warriors’ stymieing defense in the final 20 minutes.
The Main Man: Counting out Olivares in the scouting report somehow proved costly for La Salle.
With UE trailing by as many as 58-68 into the fourth and by four points going into the final 1:12 of play, the veteran swingman fired five quick points, including a booming triple from the top of the key off a Sumang inbound pass that put UE ahead 82-81 with 42.3 seconds left.
When La Salle pulled within one off a Luigi De la Paz corner jumper, Olivares was fouled by the Green Archer guard and split his charities, virtually pegging the final count with 6.3 seconds left.
Honorable Mention: With the defense focused mainly on his more heralded teammates, Chris Javier delivered just when UE needed him the most.
A power forward who has a deft touch from the perimeter, the 6-foot-5 Javier provided the needed support for Sumang and Mammie, uncorking seven of his 16 points while sparking the Red Warriors’ big 24-11 closeout.
Game Turning Point: With Vosotros firing on all cylinders, La Salle built a lead as high as 10 going into the fourth canto and even enjoyed a 70-61 cushion off a Jason Perkins’ fall-away jumper going into the final 6:45.
UE, however, still had one big run remaining, coming up with a 16-8 exchange capped by a Dan Alberto floater before a Thomas Torres triple restored La Salle’s lead at 81-77 with 1:12 to play.
Then it was Olivares’s turn to shine. After sinking two free throws off a Vosotros foul, the fifth-year wingman drilled in the go-ahead triple, time down to just 42.3 ticks left.
In the ensuing play, Thomas Torres muffed a trey and Sumang, who corralled the rebound, got a pre-emptive foul from Teng, only to suffer from cramps and be replaced by Dan Alberto.
The second-year guard coolly sank both free throws for an 84-81 lead, before De La Paz made a corner jumper that kept La Salle breathing heavily on UE’s necks, time down to just 17.9 ticks.
Fouled by De La Paz, Olivares made just the front-end of his two free throws but UE leaned on another defensive play, forcing Thomas Torres to uncork a hurried jumper as time expired.
They Said It:
UE coach Boycie Zamar: “Naiwasan natin ‘yung kidlat. They players need to really play above pressure, injuries, egos and personal problems. They have to be matured this time. Nabunot natin and he (Olivares) showed up he also has a big heart just like Sumang and Mammie.”
Dan Alberto: “Nakapag-adjust na ako. I also grabbing the opportunity that coach is giving me. Heart lang talaga. Kahit ilang minute, kahit ilang Segundo, binibigay ko lang talaga yung best ko.”
UE (85) – Sumang 21, Mammie 19, Javier 16, Alberto 9, Olivares 8, Noble 8, Santos 4, Sumido 0, Juamo-as 0, Hernandez 0, Galanza 0, Flores 0, Casajeros 0.
La Salle (83) – Vosotros 26, Teng 13, N. Torres 9, T. Torres 9, Van Opstal 8, De La Paz 8, Salem 6, Perkins 4, Tampus 0, Revilla 0, Montalbo 0.
Quarterscores: 18-18, 39-43, 58-64, 85-83.