Joaqui Manuel, Michael Phillips, and Evan Nelle conspire to lift undermanned La Salle and eliminate surprise contender NU from the Final Four race
MANILA, Philippines – The La Salle Green Archers continued riding their momentum toward the UAAP Season 84 Final Four with a 76-65 win to eliminate the NU Bulldogs from contention at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, May 1.
Without top guns Justine Baltazar and Schonny Winston who were rested for the day, the third-seeded Archers finished their elimination round run with a 9-5 record, while the Bulldogs crashed out with a 6-8 slate in joint fifth place with Adamson – in turn helping FEU clinch the fourth seed, and complete the Final Four cast.
Joaqui Manuel had one of his best games as an Archer, as he finished with a team-high 20 points built off a 4-of-9 clip from downtown while Michael Phillips churned out a 15-point, 15-rebound double-double. Evan Nelle likewise had his best UAAP game as a facilitator with 7 points to pair with a career-high 11 assists and 4 rebounds.
After NU climbed back from a 15-point hole in third quarter to inch within 54-55 early in the final frame, the Archers shot down the Bulldogs’ hopes with a game-sealing 17-6 run throughout the period, ending with a two -handed Phillips dagger jam with 1:25 left for the 72-60 gap.
The Bulldogs’ morale then completely fell apart from that point as they were unable to mount one last comeback to save their Final Four lives.
“I think they know that two of our starters are not playing today. Guys really stepped up, ”said La Salle head coach Derick Pumaren after the game.
In what would be the final game of his rookie season, former UAAP juniors MVP Jake Figueroa went down swinging with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 steals, while graduating captain Shaun Ildefonso was held scoreless in 7 minutes in his final UAAP game.
Depending on the format, La Salle will now face either FEU in a stepladder semis format, or the second-seeded UP Fighting Maroons in a standard Final Four setting.
La Salle 76 – Manuel 20, M. Phillips 15, Lojera 11, Nelle 7, B. Phillips 7, Nonoy 5, Cu 3, Nwankwo 3, Cuajao 3, Austria 2.
NU 65 – Figueroa 20, Malonzo 13, Enriquez 6, Mahinay 6, Torres 5, Tibayan 4, Yu 3, Felicilda 2, Joson 2, Manansala 2, Gaye 2, Minerva 0, Galinato 0, Clemente 0, Ildefonso 0.
Quarters: 15-11, 37-25, 54-48, 76-65.