Make no mistake about it, the DLSU Green Archers mean business
La Salle extended its season-high winning streak to nine games in the UAAP Final Four with a 97-73 blowout victory over the NU Bulldogs. The win was as lopsided as the final score suggested as the Green Archers only lost control of the lead for less than two minutes in the first quarter.
DLSU executed head coach Topex Robinson’s offense to perfection as they hit 51.4% of their field goals and had 22 assists on their 37 made baskets. On the other end, they limited the Bulldogs to only 37.5% field goal shooting and racked up 11 steals.
After La Salle’s uneven start, Mark Nonoy came off the bench to score 13 of his game-high 20 points in the second quarter which allowed them to build a nine-point halftime lead. They then kicked off the third quarter with a 22-4 run that broke open the game and sealed their first UAAP Finals appearance since 2018.
It was quite an impressive evening for the Green Archers who seem to be peaking at the right time. Nonoy, now in his last UAAP season, has been a major catalyst for DLSU’s outstanding form over the past month as he has played the best basketball of his career as a Green Archer. He hit four three-pointers versus NU and this improved outside shooting, coupled with his ever-present speed in the open court, have set him apart as one of, if not the best, reserves this season.
What made La Salle’s win even more impressive was that they managed to pull away from the Bulldogs despite the early game struggles of presumptive UAAP Most Valuable Player Kevin Quiambao.
NU had an excellent defensive game plan for Quiambao who missed his first six shots of the contest. They managed to contain him early on, but the 22-year-old forward eventually found his rhythm and hit five of his next nine attempts to finish with 17 points, two three-pointers, eight rebounds, an assist, and a steal.
Evan Nelle’s excellent play, particularly early on during Quiambao’s slow start, was crucial for the Green Archers as well. Nelle tallied with 15 points, two three-pointers, five rebounds, eight assists, and two steals in 26 minutes of play. He is playing with a much more controlled pace
over this La Salle winning streak and the team has benefited immensely from this.
Mike Phillips, Jonnel Policarpio, and Francis Escandor also played key roles for DLSU in this momentous win. Philips’ interior presence once again provided the team with some stability, especially on defense, and he wound up with 11 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
Meanwhile, the 6’5 Policarpio made a significant difference as his ability to defend opposing centers and attack the basket with guard-like skills played NU’s 6’10 Omar John off the floor. Policarpio has been a revelation over the Green Archers’ winning run after seeing scant playing time in the first round and it is not an exaggeration to say that he has been one of the most influential factors in turning this La Salle season around.
DLSU’s win has earned them a ticket to the UAAP Finals where they will battle the UP Fighting Maroons for the first time in league history. The Green Archers may be the hottest team in the league at the moment, yet UP has been the most consistent one since the resumption of play following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fighting Maroons topped the eliminations with a 12-2 record and disposed of the ADMU Blue Eagles, 57-46, in a tense Final Four match-up that saw both sides shoot poorly from the field.
This battle between La Salle and UP is going to be one for the books as these two teams have the best players and deepest benches in the UAAP today. The Green Archers may seem like a team of destiny at the moment, but these veteran Fighting Maroons know a thing or two about fate. UP should have no problem spoiling the party as they attempt to establish themselves as a blossoming dynasty with their second UAAP title in three years.