UAAP Finals: Evan Nelle finds ways to help La Salle win despite shooting woes
MANILA, Philippines — Evan Nelle may have struggled from the field but his playmaking and defensive effort made a huge impact in La Salle’s Game 2 win over University of the Philippines in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball Finals on Sunday.
Nelle struggled from the field with only four points on 2-of-12 shooting but he had 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and five steals to help the Green Archers whip the Fighting Maroons, 82-60.
“I was actually gigil nung (too eager in the) first half. I wanted to see one go in, pero malas e (but I was unlucky). I just said that I was looking for my teammates, trying to calm down, and hoping they make me look good. Which they did,” Nelle told reporters after the game.
“I had to give credit to the coaching staff. They saw UP’s plays so they prepared me for what they were gonna do so I just have to be one step ahead of them.”
After absorbing a blowout 97-67 loss in Game 1, the graduating guard lived up to his promise that they wouldn’t lose Game 2.
“We had a players meeting, team meeting. We got nothing to lose, we had our backs against the wall. We just got to come out blazing, trust in each other. We had no other choice but to win. We had to match their physicality, aggressiveness,” he said. “Which I think we did today, it showed out. Kudos to my teammates. We really trusted each other. We really came out, this won’t be our last game. It showed out.”
Nelle won the Mythical Five award, joining his teammate Kevin Quiambao, who won the Season 86 MVP. But for the court general, winning the championship would be a great ending for his collegiate career.
“It’s a pleasure, it’s really nice. But I want the bigger one. I want the championship. That’s just it,” he said.
Nelle vows to leave everything on the floor when La Salle and UP clash in a do-or-die Game 3 on Wednesday at the Big Dome.
“We just have to top our experience today. I just have to be the leader that I am, we have a lot of leaders in our team. Everybody could speak up, everybody could do something. Everybody could contribute. The only thing that I could bring is maybe the motivational talks or maybe try to calm them down when the things are getting out of hand. But I already trust my teammates. They know what to do, we know what to do. We just have to execute. That’s just it.” Nelle said.
“It comes down to who plays better in Game 3. UP will be ready for whatever we have to bring, we will be ready with whatever they have to bring but how I see Game 3 is the better team will show come out on top. Hopefully, we can get Game 3 and we’ll get the glory,” he added.