LA SALLE overhauled a 10-point deficit with 14 unanswered points in the final stretch to beat Far Eastern University, 69-66, on Wednesday and advance to the Final Four of the UAAP seniors basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia.
Norbert Torres was a tower of power for the Archers, combining with Thomas Torres for back-to-back three-point plays that capped a huge La Salle fightback from a 50-60 deficit in the final five minutes.
In all, the Green Archers ended the game with a 19-6 run to take the No. 4 spot in the semifinals, sealing a showdown with archrival Ateneo on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
As the top seeds, the Eagles will have twice-to-beat advantage in their first match-up with the Green Archers in the Final Four since 2007.
After entering the Final Four with three consecutive wins including two against FEU, La Salle coach Gee Abanilla was glad that the team rose to that occasion in that fourth-quarter run.
“I think in the first half, we played kinda tight. We talked about it at halftime and I told the boys that we didn’t see the La Salle team that used to play for us. In the second half, they responded and it all boiled down to defense, that was really crucial for us,” said Abanilla.
The Green Archers looked down and out in the fourth quarter when they trailed 50-60. But they got themselves back in the game with nine-point sput capped by a Almond Vosotros three-pointer, 59-60.
Norbert Torres, who finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds, hit five straight points from there, including a three-point play. Thomas Torres had seven points and scored a fastbreak layup and a bonus free throw off a foul from Terrence Romeo to put the Archers ahead, 67-60, with 38.6 seconds remaining.
Romeo and RR Garcia converted back-to-back triples to pull to within one point, 67-66, with 30 seconds left but the Green Archers played good defense, forcing Mike Tolomia to a traveling violation on FEU’s final attempt to tie the score with 3.5 ticks on the clock.
Jeron Teng had a quiet 15 points while Vosotros added nine points, eight rebounds and three steals for the Green Archers.
It was a disappointing finish for the Tamaraws, who ended the season with a three-game losing skid despite being in the top two for most of the season.
Romeo had 13 points while Mark Bringas added 12 markers for FEU.
DLSU (69) – N. Torres 21, Teng 15, Vosotros 9, Van Opstal 8, T. Torres 7, Mendoza 7, Andrada 2, Webb 0, Manguera 0, Tampus 0, Revilla 0.
FEU (66) – Romeo 13, M. Bringas 12, Garcia 8, Hargrove 7, Mendoza 7, Pogoy 6, Belo 5, Escoto 4, Tolomia 2, A. Bringas 2, Sentcheu 0, Foronda 0, Cruz 0.
Quarterscores: 13-19; 28-35; 46-52; 69-66.