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    La Salle heaves sigh of relief: 'Buti malaki sapatos ni Abando'

    Oct 23, 2019
    PHOTO: Marlo Cueto

    LA Salle was in pure disbelief when Rhenz Abando's desperation shot in the waning seconds found the bottom of the net.

    "Di ko rin alam eh. Tulala ako eh," said Aljun Melecio.

    "Noong una, nakakapanghinayang," shared Andrei Caracut, who committed the costly turnover after being swarmed by the University of Santo Tomas defense that led to Abando's shot.

    The Green Archers looked poised to an pressure-free win after establishing a 12-point lead, 69-57, with 7:15 remaining. But the Tigers went on a furious rally and appeared to tie the score at 80-all when Abando pulled up from three-point land on a fastbreak and made the shot.

    But it turned out it wasn't a three.

    Video reviews showed that Abando's right foot touched the line as he went for the shot, thus ruling the bucket as just two points with 1.5 seconds to spare.

    "Buti na lang talaga, nag-stepping si Rhenz," heaved Melecio, who finished the game with 18 points, six assists, and two rebounds.

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    Caracut then atoned for his miscue with a smart play in the ensuing inbound, bouncing the ball off the back of Ira Bataller before running down the clock to preserve the 80-79 squeaker for La Salle.

    "Nung tinawag na two points, buti na lang," said Caracut, who was well aware of what was at stake for the Green Archers in the game. "Importante kasi sa amin itong game na ito kasi kung matalo kami, wala na."

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    The win, La Salle's sixth in 12 games, kept the team in the Final Four picture.

    "Syempre gusto ko makapasok sa Final Four para kay Andrei," said Melecio of his backcourt partner. "Ayaw kong umalis siya sa team na ito na hindi kami papasok sa Final Four kasi grabe rin ang effort niya for La Salle. We play for Andrei - na maganda exit niya sa La Salle."


    Melecio only has Abando's errant foot to thank that the Archers still have hope.

    "Buti malaki ang sapatos ni Rhenz," said Melecio, who shed tears when the final buzzer sounded but appeared to be on a more jovial mood after the game. "Kung si Renzo (Subido) yun, hindi stepping yun eh."

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    PHOTO: Marlo Cueto
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