MANILA, Philippines – The La Salle Green Archers survived a neck-and-neck war with the FEU Tamaraws in a 65-57 victory that propelled them to solo 3rd place in the UAAP Season 81 men's basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, October 27.
The triple-tower combo worked wonders for a La Salle squad facing a Prince Orizu-less FEU. Justine Baltazar led the Archers with 15 points and 6 rebounds. Santi Santillan chipped in a 12-point, 14-board double-double while stand-in starter Brandon Bates had 7 markers and 10 boards.
But hotshot guard Aljun Melecio also delivered in the clutch, highlighted by a dagger three-pointer that gave the Archers a 62-53 cushion in the last 75 seconds.
The Archers improved to 6-4 behind league-leaders Ateneo (9-2) and Adamson (7-2).
FEU star Arvin Tolentino returned to action after serving a two-game suspension, but the Tamaraws missed the services of injured big man Orizu.
The Tamaraws, who remained winless in the second round, absorbed their fourth straight loss to drop to 5th place at 5-6.
FEU sparked an 11-0 run in the 3rd off the sweet-shooting Tolentino, 45-35, with 5:50 left in the quarter.
However, La Salle would storm back with a tying 10-0 attack ending with a pump-fake putback by the towering Brandon Bates at the 2:07 mark.
Kib Montalbo then dropped a buzzer-beating layup to end the frame up 1, 48-47.
After more back-and-forth action in the payoff period, Melecio calmly sank his freebies off a foul on the fastbreak to create a manageable 59-53 lead with 2:44 left.
The rim shut tight on the Tamaraws' side after multiple missed open looks. Melecio made them pay with a dagger triple at the 1:15 mark for the 62-53 advantage.
Tolentino made the most of his return with 20 markers off the bench on a 4-of-10 (40%) clip from downtown.
However, no one else showed up as Jasper Parker and Alec Stockton followed with only 6 points apiece.
DLSU 65 – Baltazar 15, Santillan 12, Melecio 7, Montalbo 7, Caracut 7, Bates 7, Dyke 5, Serrano 5, Go 0, Manuel 0.
FEU 57 – Tolentino 20, Parker 6, Stockton 6, Escoto 5, Iñigo 5, Ramirez 5, Cani 4, Comboy 3, Eboña 3, Bienes 0, Tuffin 0.
Quarters: 14-13, 34-34, 48-47, 65-57.