La Salle Makes Opening Noise, tramps UP
Since nobody was making a fuss about them during the pre-season, the DLSU Green Archers made a noise of their own in winning fashion, beating the UP Fighting Maroons by 18 points, 80-62 on opening day of the UAAP Season 73.
Simon Atkins, the newly anointed captain of Gang Green, proved that he deserved the spot as he led all scorers with 20 points, including 3 crucial treys that sparked the hopes of the host team this season to barge back to the Final Four after missing it last year on the final season of legendary coach Franz Pumaren.
New head coach, and sibling to Franz, Dindo, got his first win as the new head tactician for the Taft ballers. Despite a change in headship, La Salle’s players picked up from the same defense trademark that the brothers were known for even during their PBA days. And true enough, the pressure defense coming from a relatively young roster of players from La Salle overpowered the experience and grit of a veteran-laden UP squad, who was actually favored to take a first game win over the host school.
UP’s players committed twice as much infractions on the ball than La Salle’s, 21 to 10, and shot with less efficiency with their field goals, 31% to La Salle’s 38%. Only veteran Woody Co and rookie Mike Silungan came up with double-digit figures each with 17. Other than the two players, all other UP ballers who stepped on the floor contributed no more than 8 points individually.
At one point, the Maroons closed the gap at the end of the half 34-31, until a Webb-Villanueva tandem created an 18-7 run that disrupted the shift of momentum from UP in the fourth quarter. The Diliman five showed little defense to stop the Archers and played catch-up, which hardly made a dent in the lead. It was around 3:20 left in the ballgame that the 74-56 lead of La Salle made it clear that they were bagging one win.
In other games, another unexpected win came from the downplayed UST Growling Tigers, winning 80-67 against last year’s runner-up, the UE Red Warriors. Jeric Teng, Clark Bautista and Chris Camus suited up for their new roles as leaders of the pack of Tigers, combining 39 of the 80 points of UST, while UE team captain Paul Lee, forecasted to be the MVP for this season, was shackled to pouring only 7 points for a team that had lost the most number of strong starters.
Sunday games featured the rise of the Adamson Falcons, winning their first ever game one outing in five years, 60-54, against a tough but error-prone NU Bulldogs. It would have went NU’s way, with their top two players Kokoy Hermosisima and Mervin Baloran combining for 37 points, and with their big men outrebounding Adamson, 37-30 boards. But their 31 turnovers converted to 21 points for Adamson, which is the dark horse team expected to be a F4 contender this year. And in the main game, FEU proved they were the team to beat this season, after handing the defending champs Ateneo Blue Eagles their first loss of the season, 72-69. Despite winning by a three point margin only, the win gave FEU an opening day boost for their bid to win it all this season. Tamaraws’ coach Glenn Capacio gave a fearless forecast that they’re geared up to take the crown away from the Eagles this season, and his ballers from Morayta followed his lead by taking a first game win.
First games are finally over. Watch out for more UAAP action on Thursday!