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MANILA, Philippines – Evan Nelle walked the talk for La Salle.
Promising not to let the Green Archers’ season end after a forgettable Game 1 performance, Nelle delivered as La Salle dragged UP to a winner-take-all duel in the UAAP Season 86 finals with an 82-60 win on Sunday, December 3.
Drubbed by 30 points in the series opener, the hot-shooting Archers returned the favor by dealing the Fighting Maroons their worst loss of the season.
“We had our backs against the wall, we just had to come out blazing, trust in each other. We had no other choice but to win,” said Nelle. “We had to match their physicality, be aggressive, play smarter, which we did.”
Nelle fired blanks in Game 1, where he got limited to 8 points on a 4-of-13 shooting, including a 0-of-6 clip from beyond the arc.
Although the veteran guard carried over his shooting struggles to Game 2 as Nelle finished with a season-low 4 points after missing 12 of his 14 field goals, he still posted a double-double of 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
Nelle also disrupted the passing lanes and recorded a game-high 5 steals, a testament to how badly La Salle wanted to live another day.
“We really came out that this will not be our last game,” said Nelle.
The win came on the day Nelle officially got feted as a member of the Mythical Five along with teammate Kevin Quiambao, who crowned himself the MVP.
As honored as Nelle is, though, his goal is a different hardware.
“It is a pleasure. It is really nice. But I want the bigger one. I want the championship,” said Nelle, who won a title with the San Beda Red Lions in the NCAA.
The do-or-die Game 3 is slated on Wednesday, December 6, at the Araneta Coliseum. (SCHEDULE: UAAP Season 86 basketball) – Rappler.com