MANILA, Philippines – Rey Suerte proved to be the lucky recruit the University of the East needed.
Suerte knocked in the game-winner with 3.2 seconds left as the UE Red Warriors escaped a shorthanded La Salle Green Archers, 89-88, in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament on Saturday, September 14 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
A transferee from Cebu, Suerte erupted for a season-high 31 points off a 5-of-7 clip from beyond the arc to go with 7 boards and 3 assists.
“Kailangan na talaga namin ipanalo, so sa isip ko positive na lang, kailangan ko i-shoot,” said Suerte.
(I was being positive because we needed to win the game, so I had to make the shot.)
Neil Tolentino also impressed with 19 points, while Jem Cruz chipped in 13 points for the Warriors, who snapped a three-game skid.
The Green Archers played minus Fil-Am standouts Jamie Malonzo, who sat out due to a sprained wrist, and Keys Meeker, who sustained a tendonitis injury.
Justine Baltazar led La Salle with a double-double of 21 points and 17 boards while Aljun Melecio scored another 21 points.
After trailing most of the game, La Salle looked headed to steal it after unleashing an 8-0 run capped by Encho Serrano’s and-1 play that nabbed the lead for the Green Archers, 83-81, with 1:07 left in the game.
UE’s Chris Conner drew a crucial foul off Baltazar to knot the score at 83-all, but Serrano again put La Salle up by sinking both his freebies.
Suerte then drained the first of his two clutch shots, burying a go-ahead trey with 15.4 seconds to go, 86-85.
La Salle veteran guard Melecio answered back with a triple, but Suerte came up with a game-winning three to seal the game for UE.
The loss pushed the Green Archers down to 6th with a 1-2 record.
UE 89 – Suerte 31, Tolentino 19, Cruz 13, Pagsanjan 8, Apacible 6, Conner 4, Mendoza 4, Natividad 4, Abanto 0, Camacho 0, Diakhite 0, Sawat 0.
La Salle 88 – Baltazar 21, Melecio 21, Caracut 16, Serrano 14, Pado 9, Lojera 3, Bartlett 2, Manuel 2, Bates 0, Hill 0.
Quarters: 28-24, 48-37, 70-63, 89-88
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