Champions Once Again: DLSU Overcomes UP To Reclaim UAAP Men’s Basketball Crown

Despite a lackluster start to the finals series, the DLSU Green Archers came back in a huge way to reclaim their UAAP glory.

De La Salle University (DLSU) is back on the UAAP Men’s Basketball throne after seven years.

The DLSU Green Archers leaned on the duo of MVP Kevin Quiambao and Mythical Five member Evan Nelle to outlast University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in the winner-take-all Game 3, 73-69, and cop the UAAP Season 86 championship in front of a record-breaking crowd of 25,192 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday evening.

This was La Salle’s 10th title in league history and their first since Season 79.

It was a championship to remember for the Green Archers, as they suffered the worst Finals loss in the Final Four era in the opener before winning the next two.

De La Salle also rebounded from a sluggish start by winning nine in a row to reach the league’s biggest stage.

“I’m so grateful and honored to be a part of this amazing group of guys. Also, we have to credit the coaches who came before me and built this team. They’ve done a tremendous job and I’m just so grateful for these guys that were with me throughout the season. Can’t thank enough also the coaches,” said Green Archers head coach Topex Robinson, who joined an elite list of La Salle coaches that won the chip in their first year consisting of Franz Pumaren, Juno Sauler, and Aldin Ayo.

Malick Diouf’s putback with 6:05 left put the Fighting Maroons on top 67-63, but unfortunately, they would be stuck there for the next six minutes and two seconds.

Meanwhile, Quiambao and Nelle connived to put the Green Archers ahead. The graduating guard nailed a deep three-pointer to inch within one before the do-it-all forward drilled a floater and two free throws with 4:02 to go for the 70-67 lead.

Then La Salle’s defense and UP’s head-scratching decision-making followed for the next four minutes while Quiambao added insurance from the line with 5.4 seconds remaining, missing his first before swishing the second, 71-67.

In the Maroons’ play off of a timeout, Diouf received the ball on the left corner and shot a three – just his fourth attempt from deep throughout the season while missing the first three – and airballed it but Francis Lopez was there for the stickback that made it 69-71 with 2.5 seconds on the clock.

Joshua David then inbounded the ball to Quiambao, who was sent to the line by Reyland Torres with 2.1 ticks. This time, the 22-year-old pride of Muntinlupa made sure to shoot both to secure the crown.

Quiambao bagged the Finals MVP with averages of 14.66 points, 9.33 rebounds, 2.33 assists, and 2.0 blocks in the series that reached the distance.

“Mindset lang na leave it all on the court dahil wala na ngang bukas Game 3 na ito win or go home na. Sobrang sarap sa pakiramdam na kahit maraming nagdoubt sa amin nung first round, ito na kami champion!”said Quiambao, who uncorked 24 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two blocks.

Quiambao became the first individual in the men’s division to win both Season and Finals MVP in the same season since Arwind Santos did it in Season 68 (2005) for Far Eastern University.

Nelle added 12 points, seven assists, six rebounds, two steals, and a block, while Jonnel Policarpio – who only played three minutes and 26 seconds in Game 2 – came up huge with eight points in just seven minutes and 11 seconds.

Graduating Mark Nonoy also had eight points while Mike Phillips grabbed 16 rebounds halved in offensive and defensive along with five points, four assists, and two steals.

Joaqui Manuel, Francis Escandor, and Ben Phillips will also leave La Salle as champions.

Diouf left his all in his final game with 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field while also seizing 14 rebounds.

Lopez chipped in 12 points, nine rebounds, four steals, three blocks, and three steals, while Harold Alarcon had 10 points.

CJ Cansino had also played his final game in a Maroons jersey.

The Scores:

DLSU 73 – Quiambao 24, Nelle 12, Policarpio 8, Nonoy 8, M. Phillips 5, Macalalag 5, Escandor 4, Austria 3, David 3, Cortez 1, Manuel 0, Nwankwo 0, B. Phillips 0, Abadam 0.

UP 69 – Diouf 21, Lopez 12, Alarcon 10, Cagulangan 8, Felicilda 5, Cansino 5, Torculas 4, Abadiano 2, Torres 2, Fortea 0, Pablo 0.

Quarterscores: 22-21, 39-43, 55-58, 73-69

Images from UAAP Media.

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