OVERCOMING the aggressiveness of the Adamson Falcons were one of the problems that the La Salle Green Archers worked to solve.
Small forward Leonardo Santillan said this after the Green Archers came away with a 82-75 stopping of the Adamson Falcons in the 80th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament Final Four on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
“Iyung aggressiveness nila, na-divert iyung mga plays namin. Pero nu’ng second half, nakabawi kami,” said the 6’5” Santillan after the second-seeded Green Archers reached the finals for the second straight season.
Santillan scored 15 points and had eight boards behind Ben Mbala, who led with 27 points and 14 rebounds.
It was Santillan’s triple with 2:25 to go which allowed La Salle to finally move away, 74-70, and it came after the Falcons fought to within a point, 70-71.
Meanwhile, the Far Eastern University Tamaraws took control of the boards in the second half and overpowered the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 80-67, to force a rubber match in their own semifinal battle.
Ron Dennison fired 17 points and hauled in seven rebounds for the fourth- seeded Tams, who will clash again with the Blue Eagles for the last finals seat on Wednesday.
Dennison banged in eight points in the third, including two triples in the opening minutes of the second half.
His first trey broke a 38-all deadlock in the remaining 8:26, while the second handed them a 48-40 spread, with 5:47 to go. It was all FEU from there.
“We prepared well for this game. We were confident that we will finish strong in the fourth quarter. That’s what I told them, that we finish strong,” said Tams’ coach Olsen Racela.
La Salle coach Aldin Ayo said the their outside shooting worked wonders for them throughout the game.
“During the second and third quarters, some of our small guys were hesitant to take those threes. That’s why I told them at halftime that ‘you have to be confident on those shots.’ That’s because we spend one and a half hours on those in practice. Make it count this time,” said Ayo.
Aljun Melecio, fighting to shrug off the effects of the dengue fever he suffered two months ago, joined Santillan in scoring crucial baskets at endgame.
Melecio made all of his baskets in the final period, with his perimeter shot with 7:05 left allowing La Salle to take the upperhand for good, 64-63.
From there, Melecio struck again, with his split charity and putback off his missed freebie in the remaining 6:07 sending the Green Archers ahead, 68-63.
In the junior battle, Batang Gilas standout Bismarck Lina took charge in the shaded lanes in t he fourth quarter and his big effort underneath helped power the University of Santo Tomas Tigers Cubs to a 78-69 beating of the Adamson Baby Falcons Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.
John Cansino showed the way with 26 points and 21 rebounds as the Tiger Cubs posted their second straight win to stay in the lead with three others.
In other games, Michael Malonzo and Rhayyan Amsali had 14 points apiece and led seven players in double figures as the NU Bullpups overpowered De La Salle-Zobel, 94-61.
Jason Credo had 14 points while Dave Ildefonso and SJ Belangel each had 12 markers as Ateneo rout UP Integrated School, 78-58.
yrus Torres struck with 18 points as the Baby Tams waylaid University of the East, 86-68.