Despite squandering a fourth quarter lead, the De La Salle Green Archers were able to stave off the NU Bulldogs, 83-82, and escape with their first win in UAAP Season 82 Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Kurt Lojera hit the go-ahead basket with 14.9 seconds left that made up for the Archers' collapse, surrendering a 16-1 run against the Bulldogs in the final six minutes of the game.
"One thing we can't really address at this moment is we're inexperienced as a team. As you know, we're a new staff, we're a new team," said head coach Gian Nazario.
The Green Archers had control of the ball game with under six minutes remaining as a 3-pointer from Keys Meeker made it 80-66. Just when the Bulldogs looked like they were dead in the water, Shaun Ildefonso led their comeback bid. Ildefonso scored eight points in the rally, including a gutsy 3-pointer to give NU the taste of the lead, 82-81, with 28.1 ticks left on the clock.
La Salle didn't call a timeout after Ildefonso's triple and went to Lojera for the baseline jumper. NU tried to answer and get the win but Ildefonso's shot missed its mark. In the rebound battle, the La Salle's Jamie Malonzo was called for a kickball violation, leaving the door open for NU. Unfortunately, for the Bulldogs, officials ruled that there was no time left on the clock.
"When a team like that rattles you a lot, your familiarity will always be the advantage. That's what you look for - familiarity with each other," said Nazario in Filipino. "It showed in the last quarter that we were rattled. Good thing we were able to push through. Kurt was able to make a jumper on the short corner."
Justine Baltazar led the way for the Archers with a double-double performance of 23 points and 10 rebounds. Malonzo also had a strong game of 14 points and 11 rebounds.
It was another tough loss for NU. After being on the receiving end of a buzzer-beating triple from Adamson's Lenda Douanga in their first game, they were dealt with another heartbreaker.
Shaun Ildefonso did all he could with 26 points on 9-for-15 shooting while John Lloyd Clemente chipped in with 19 points.
La Salle moved into the win column with a 1-1 record while NU dropped to 0-2.
"And just like what we always say from here, we just want to get better. It was a good learning experience for us," closed Nazario.
LA SALLE 83 -- Baltazar 23, Malonzo 14, Melecio 10, Caracut 7, Lojera 6, Meeker 6, Serrano 6, Bates 4, Pado 4, Cagulangan 3, Cu 0, Hill 0, Manuel 0.
NU 82 -- S. Ildefonso 26, Clemente 19, Gallego 12, Gaye 11, D. Ildefonso 8, Joson 2, Minerva 2, Mosqueda 2, Diputado 0, Galinato 0, Mangayao 0, Oczon 0, Tibayan 0, Yu 0.
Quarters: 22-12, 42-32, 67-57, 83-82.