DE la Salle shrugged off a late scare to survive National University, 67-63, and jumpstart its UAAP Season 78 campaign on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Green Archers saw their double-digit lead almost disappear no thanks to the defending champion Bulldogs’ trademark suffocating defense, but proved steady down the stretch to hold on for the hard-earned victory.
Jeron Teng and Jason Perkins hit the key baskets in the clutch, while rookie Andrei Caracut also shone in his debut for La Salle, which joined opening-day winners University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas on top.
“A win is a win, but this doesn’t prove anything yet,” said Teng, who finished with a game-high 18 points, including two on a tough running bank shot that gave the Archers a 64-59 lead with 23.6 seconds to go.
Gelo Alolino stood at the forefront of the Bulldogs’ comeback, pouring half of his team-high 16 markers in the final three minutes, including one on split charity that put NU within 60-59 after trailing by as many as 14 points in the third quarter.
Caracut, the blue-chip recruit out of San Beda, pumped in 13 markers, including three on a left-wing three-pointer that gave the Archers their biggest lead at 41-27.
DLSU 67 – Teng 18, Caracut 13, Perkins 13, Rivero 11, Sargent 6, Torres 3, Trater 3, Go 0, Langston 0
NU 63 – Alolino 16, Alejandro 15, Aroga 9, Diputado 8, Javelona 4, Salim 4, Neypes 3, Javillionar 2, Morido 2, Abatayo 0, Celda 0, Rangel 0, Tansingco 0
Quarterscores: 16-6, 33-23, 51-40, 67-63