Poor shooting, breaks of the game doomed La Salle: coach
MANILA, Philippines – De La Salle head coach Juno Sauler said it was their poor shooting, flat start and the breaks of the game that contributed to the Green Archers heartbreaking loss to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 76 Finals.
The Green Archers rallied from a 17-point deficit and even led going into the final quarter, but failed to convert in their final possession of the game as UST escaped with a 73-72 victory.
When asked if UST’s championship experience – the Tigers made the UAAP Finals last year as well – was a factor, the soft-spoken Sauler disagreed.
“It’s not really their championship experience,” he said. “They have been playing well in their last three games, so we just have to do better next game.”
The breaks of the game also went UST’s way, he noted.
“(Kevin) Ferrer hit a tough shot. I think they were up one (point), and it was a broken play. He shot a three-pointer from the top of the key, and they were up four,” he said.
La Salle got a chance to win the game when UST’s Aljon Mariano fumbled Ferrer’s inbound pass, but Almond Vosotros’ three-pointer hit iron and Karim Abdul blocked LA Revilla’s putback attempt.
“We got a good shot,” Sauler said. “Almond was wide open. He had a good look, and that’s the ball game. If you make it, then you make it, and if you miss it, then that’s it. But we had a chance. I think we tried to go for the rebound, but we didn’t get it. So, breaks of the game also in the last possession.”
Sauler further points out that it will be difficult for La Salle to pull out a victory considering UST’s shooting percentages.
“They just shot better in all departments,” he said. “Three-point percentage, two-points, even in the free throws. So it’s gonna be hard to win if the opponent shoots better in all aspects.”
For the game, UST shot 43.4% from the field to only 37.5% for La Salle. UST made 41.2% of their triples, while La Salle shot 30.8%. UST also converted 73.7% of their free throws, while La Salle made 63.6%.
In the crucial fourth quarter, La Salle shot 33.3% from the field, making only five of their 15 field goals. UST made nine of their 15 shots in the fourth quarter, including three of five from beyond the arc.
To make matters worse, La Salle made only six of their 11 free throw attempts in the final quarter.
The Green Archers’ flat start only contributed to their woes. After taking a brief 2-0 lead, La Salle allowed UST to score 18 straight points, and the Tigers eventually led by as much as 17, 21-4.
“We couldn’t get ourselves going because Arnold (Van Opstal) was called for two early fouls, Jason (Perkins) had two early fouls,” Sauler said. “We had to go to our bench, and then Ferrer shot three three-pointers in the first quarter.”
“They (UST) have been starting very well in every game, so we just have to make sure that they don’t do that again in the next game,” he added.
La Salle will have a chance to equalize the best-of-three series on Game 2, scheduled for Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.