DAN Alberto completed a three-point play off a turnover, lifting University of the East to a 68-66 win over La Salle on Wednesday that kept the Warriors in contention for a Final Four berth in the UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.
Bong Galanza had 21 points, including 10 in the fourth to spark a 17-2 finish for the Red Warriors, who climbed to 8-5 after fighting back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit.
But the biggest basket was made by Alberto, who broke a 63-63 deadlock by stripping the ball from Almond Vosotros and scoring on a lay-up over Jeron Teng with 31.8 seconds left.
UE, which led by as many as 15 points in the first half, needs a win over University of Santo Tomas on September 16 to gain at least a playoff for the fourth seeding in the Final Four.
“I think this was a character game for us,” said UE coach Derrick Pumaren. “We were down by 10 but the boys kept their poise and refused to lose. Because of panic mode, we couldn’t buy a basket but we came back playing defense.”
The defending champion Green Archers (9-4) now face a must-win situation against National University on Saturday in order to gain a playoff for the No. 2 spot and a crucial twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four against the loser of the Far Eastern University-Ateneo tussle on the same day.
La Salle appeared to have the win in the bag after taking a 61-51 lead with four minutes to go but made only one field goal the rest of the way. Teng scored to make it 63-60 with 1:44 left but the Archers failed to hold on.
Galanza tied the game at 63 with a jumper, 55.4 seconds remaining, before Alberto’s three-point play. Teng’s pass was intercepted, leading to a Roi Sumang free throw, 67-63, with 19.3 seconds left.
Teng had 23 points and nine rebounds for the Archers.
UE (68) – Galanza 21, Sumang 14, Javier 8, Alberto 6, Jumao-as 6, Mammie 4, Arafat 3, Varilla 2, De Leon 2, Palma 2, Guiang 0, Olayon 0.
DLSU (66) – Teng 23, Vosotros 11, Sargent 10, N. Torres 7, Rivero 7, Montalbo 6, Van Opstal 2, Perkins 0, Andrada 0.
Quarterscores: 15-13; 36-22; 43-39; 68-66.