DE LA Salle beat a listless University of Santo Tomas side, 69-64, on Saturday to set up a playoff for the No. 2 spot and the second twice-to-beat advantage in the UAAP Final Four opposite Far Eastern University.
The win over the Growling Tigers completed a second-round sweep by the Green Archers of the eliminations as they finished the regular season with a 10-4 (win-loss) slate.
But more importantly, the Taft-based school clinched a playoff for the No. 2 seed against the Tamaraws, the same team which also swept the first round hostilities of the tournament.
National University, which also owns a 10-4 record with De La Salle and FEU, took the No. 1 seed owing to a superior quotient.
Ironically, the La Salle win came as a big boost for arch-enemy Ateneo, which instead of having to beat UST twice now only need to do it once to salvage the fourth and last place in the semifinals.
The Tigers fell to 7-6 overall in a tie with five-time defending champion Ateneo, making their encounter on Wednesday at the end of the eliminations a do-or-die game for the last spot in the Final Four.
La Salle’s sweep of the second round meant nothing to its head coach Juno Sauler.
“No sense of accomplishment for me,” said Sauler. “It’s like what I keep on saying, it’s on a per-game basis, day-to-day basis. More important than the results is what we do in practice and hopefully bring it out in the game.”
The Green Archers led by as many 14 points, 48-34, in the third period after a 9-0 run. The Tigers answered with nine straight points to pull within five points but Thomas Torres hit a three-pointer before the third quarter buzzer to stop the bleeding, 53-45.
UST got even closer after a Karim Abdul layup, 57-59, with under five minutes to play but LA Revilla hit a running jumper along the baseline to bring La Salle's lead back to 64-57 with 1:58 in the game.
Abdul had 18 points and 12 rebounds while Aljon Mariano chipped in 16 markers for the Tigers. Both played 35 minutes.
DLSU (69) – Teng 19, N. Torres 14, Vosotros 11,Perkins 7, Van Opstal 6, Revilla 6, T. Torres 3, Salem 3, Reyes 0, Montalbo 0, De La Paz 0.
UST (64) – Abdul 18, Mariano 16, Teng 10, Bautista 6, Sheriff 9, Ferrer 5, Lo 2, Daquioag 2, Pe 0, Faundo 0.
Quarterscores: 15-13; 39-30; 53-45; 69-64.