Out of their league
ANTIPOLO—Mathematically, University of Santo Tomas is still in the hunt for a Final Four slot in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament. But La Salle made it look like the Tigers do not deserve a semifinal berth.
In fact, the Archers made the Tigers look like they had strolled into the wrong playground, where the big boys play.
Unforgiving from start to finish, La Salle tightened its grip on third place with a 110-69 humiliation of UST Saturday at Ynares Center here.
The Archers completed a devastating season sweep of the Tigers, where La Salle’s former head coach, Aldin Ayo, now sits as head coach. La Salle, now handled by Ayo’s former assistant Louie Gonzalez, has beaten UST by an average of 34 points, just a shade under the 36.3-point average winning margin Ayo inflicted on coach Boy Sablan and the Tigers during his stint as Archers kingpin.
And it’s not like Gonzalez was even trying to upend La Salle’s former coach.
“The entire game, the only coaching I did was to rotate the players but they met the challenge of being consistent,” said Gonzalez in Filipino.
The effortless coaching left Ayo and the Tigers bamboozled.
With Aljun Melecio (22 points, six assists) leading the charge, La Salle (7-4) went on a 27-8 start and never had to sweat it out. UST (5-6) looked even more dazed in the third after a 34-9 La Salle run erected an 84-40 hole—the Tigers faced a deficit four points better than their output.
The loss, coupled by the University of the Philippines’ methodical 82-71 dicing of National U later in the day, put the Maroons at solo No. 4.
“I signed up for this; through thick and thin we’ll be here and we’ll be patient,” said Ayo, who suffered the worst loss of his career. “We’re not going to give up on those guys because they’ve all worked so hard for this.”
Mark Dyke had a breakout game with 16 points and six rebounds for La Salle with Andrei Caracut and Jollo Go putting up 15 and 14 points, respectively. Justine Baltazar and Encho Serrano had 13 points apiece.
Marvin Lee put up 26 points for the Growling Tigers while CJ Cansino added 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists.
“There are things that we didn’t do and there were also some things that were beyond our control, and all those got together in one situation,” said Ayo in Filipino. “It had nothing to do with what La Salle did. It just so happens that we couldn’t play well when we’re up against La Salle, no big deal.”
La Salle was 38 of 71 from the field, including 15 triples. UST, on the other hand, shot just 20 of its 60 attempts while turning the ball over 23 times.
The Maroons improved to an even 6-6 card while the Bulldogs slipped to 3-8.
Bright Akhuetie led UP’s scorers with 24 points while grabbing 10 boards.
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