Archers eye second straight win over FEU in semis to preserve bid for back-to-back titles
After suffering three straight losses to the Tamaraws, coach Juno Sauler and the Archers have stopped the bleeding and now go for back-to-back wins. Jaime Campos

LA Salle looks to score a second straight win over Far Eastern University keep its back-to-back title aspirations alive as the Archers and Tamaraws clash in their UAAP Final Four rubber match on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The much-awaited winner-take-all match begins at 6 p.m. where a sea of green and yellow are expected to pack the Big Dome.

The winner advances to the UAAP Finals where it will face the victor of the Ateneo-National University sudden match, which will start at 2 p.m.

La Salle coach Juno Sauler said there’s no secret to the team’s 94-73 shellacking of second seed FEU on Saturday that allowed them to force the rubber match.

“It takes team effort. We can’t just rely on two or three players, even the role players have to step up,” Sauler said, whose team had four players scoring in double figures, led by star forward Jeron Teng’s 25 points and Norbert Torres’ 18 markers and seven boards.

The Archers’ defense was splendid last weekend, holding the usually efficient Tamaraws to just 35.1 percent shooting from the field.

The bigger La Salle squad also threw its weight around for a sizeable 54-41 rebounding advantage, while holding a 19-10 edge in assists.

Teng, who only scored eight points in La Salle’s 60-65 loss to FEU in their semifinal playoff for the No. 2 seed, said he expects the Tamaraws to maintain their physical plays, though he won’t budge.

“May mga players lang talaga na ganun (who will play it physical). Crucial itong mga games na ito. I can’t afford pa na bumawi,” the burly La Salle forward said, who was hit in the groin by Ron Dennison in the second half.

Meantime, FEU coach Nash Racela said the last three days already gave them an opportunity to correct their mistakes and make the necessary tweaks to their game.

Part of the adjustment is to ensure Mike Tolomia gets back to scoring groove.

The high-flying Tolomia, who averages more than 20 points in FEU’s three straight wins over La Salle this season, was held down to just seven points on 2-of-14 shooting from the field in the team’s 21-point loss.

“We emphasized that basketball is a team game so Mike is looking for ways to help the team. Part iyan (Tolomia’s involvement on offense) ng adjustments namin,” Racela said.

In Tolomia’s offensive struggle, FEU had to rely on forward Mark Belo, who fired a UAAP season-high 32 points. 


But no other FEU player scored in double figures in that game.

“Hindi lang naman ito puro heart and effort. So part din ng adjustment namin is yung may tutulong kay Mac and also, adjustment on defense,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava