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Back in TAFT: DLSU Green Archers reclaims UAAP title

by Bryan Gadingan

AFTER seven-year wait, the De La Salle University Green Archers are again kings of the UAAP collegiate basketball as they defeated the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons 73-69 in a winner-take-all Game 3.

In recapturing the UAAP Season 86 championship, the Green Archers went 7-0 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday evening, before a record-breaking crowd of 25,192 people, as they outlasted the Fighting Maroons in a nail-biting duel.

Journey back to the top

De La Salle had a rough start to the season, winning critical games while also losing key games. After a slow start, the club won nine consecutive games to reach the league’s grandest stage.

This is DLSU’s 10th league championship, and their first since Season 79. The Green Archers had a championship to remember, as they suffered the biggest Finals loss in Final Four history in the opening before sweeping the Fighting Maroons.

Coach Topex Robinson now joins a select group of La Salle coaches who have won the trophy in their first year, which includes Franz Pumaren, Juno Sauler, and Aldin Ayo.

“I’m so grateful and honored to be a part of this amazing group of guys. Also, we have to credit the coaches who came before me and built this team,” Robinson said. 

“They’ve done a tremendous job and I’m just so grateful for these guys that were with me throughout the season. Can’t thank enough also the coaches,” he continued.

Malick Diouf’s putback with 6:05 remaining gave the Fighting Maroons a 67-63 lead, which they would hold for the next six minutes and two seconds. 

But Kevin Quiambao and Evan Nelle conspired to put the Green Archers ahead. 

The graduating guard hit a deep three-pointer to cut the margin to one before the MVP blasted a floater and two free throws with 4:02 left in the fourth quarter to secure a 70-67 victory.

For the following four minutes, La Salle’s defense and UP’s puzzling decision-making continued, as Quiambao added insurance from the line with 5.4 seconds remaining, missing his first before swishing the second, 71-67.

Diouf received the ball in the left corner and launched a three and airballed it, but Francis Lopez was there for the stickback that made it 69-71 with 2.5 seconds remaining.

Reyland Torres sent Quiambao to the line with 2.1 ticks after Joshua David inbounded the ball to him. This time, the 22-year-old Muntinlupa pride made sure to shoot both to secure the title.

Quiambao, who was awarded Season MVP and a member of the Mythical 5 last Sunday, was named Finals MVP with averages of 14.66 points, 9.33 rebounds, 2.33 assists, and 2.0 blocks in the winner-take-all game.

“Mindset lang na leave it all on the court dahil wala na ngang bukas Game 3 na ito win or go home na. Sobrang sarap sa pakiramdam na kahit maraming nagdoubt sa amin nung first round, ito na kami champion,” Quiambao said after finishing with 24 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two blocks.

Quiambao became the first player in the men’s division to earn both Season and Finals MVP in the same season since Arwind Santos did so for Far Eastern University in Season 68 (2005).

Nelle finished with 12 points, seven assists, six rebounds, two steals, and a block, while Jonnel Policarpio scored eight points in seven minutes and 11 seconds. 

Graduating Mark Nonoy added eight points, while Mike Phillips got 16 rebounds, half of which were offensive and half of which were defensive, in addition to five points, four assists, and two steals.

Diouf gave it his all in his final game, scoring 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the floor and grabbing 14 rebounds. Lopez scored 12 points, nine rebounds, four steals, three blocks, while Harold Alarcon had 10 points and nine rebounds. CJ Cansino had also played his final game for the Maroons.



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