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MANILA, Philippines – The La Salle Green Archers stayed undefeated to end the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament second round, escaping rival Ateneo Blue Eagles, 72-69, at the packed Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, November 18.
MVP frontrunner Kevin Quiambao again stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block.
Despite trailing by as many as 10 points, 38-48, in the third quarter, Ateneo stormed back late in the fourth as Jared Brown hit a booming triple to put the Blue Eagles within one, 65-66, with 2:08 left to play.
Evan Nelle, however, restored order with a floater at the 1:06 mark, 68-65, before hustle play extraordinaire Michael Phillips pushed the lead further to 70-65 with a layup at the 44-second mark.
Brown had a clear shot after a Chris Koon long two to tie the game with 15 ticks left, but his shot clanked off as Nelle secured the win with two free throws off the duty foul with 12.1 seconds to play, 72-67.
Nelle tallied 10 points, 6 dimes, and 5 boards, while the returning Phillips also scattered 10 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks.
Joe Obasa saw his career-high scoring night of 21 points go to waste in the loss that pushed Ateneo down to 7-7, as No. 5 Adamson (6-7) stays alive to possibly force a fourth-seed playoff in the event that the Falcons beat the UE Red Warriors on Sunday, November 19.
With their eighth straight win since starting the season with a 3-3 record, the Archers now have a great shot to get the twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four since No. 3 NU (10-3) must beat No. 2 UP (11-2), also on Sunday, by at least 39 points to bump La Salle from the top spot in the quotient system.
As of now, in the event of a triple-tie with an 11-3 record, NU holds the worst quotient at -25, while UP has +12, and La Salle has +13.
A 39-point win by the Bulldogs, however unlikely, erases its -25, adds +14, and bumps off La Salle from No. 1.
This, in turn, forces the Archers into a second-seed playoff with the Maroons for the remaining twice-to-beat spot.
La Salle 72 – Quiambao 14, Nelle 10, M. Phillips 10, Nonoy 10, Policarpio 9, Austria 6, David 6, Abadam 4, Cortez 2, Escandor 1, Manuel 0, Macalalag 0.
Ateneo 69 – Obasa 21, Ballungay 12, Amos 10, Koon 9, Credo 4, Espinosa 4, Quitevis 4, Brown 3, Lazaro 2, Nieto 0, Chiu 0.
Quarters: 14-17, 35-32, 51-46, 72-69.