MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) De La Salle University stayed alive in the semifinals after claiming a crucial 80-79 victory over University of Santo Tomas (UST), Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Green Archers, coming off a paltry effort against Far Eastern University last weekend, leaned on a big game from Jamie Malonzo to hike their record to 6-6 in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament.
Their victory prevented UST and University of the Philippines from clinching spots in the Final 4. The Growling Tigers dropped to 7-6, tied with FEU for a share of third place.
Malonzo fired 23 points, and threw down several thunderous dunks. Aljun Melecio finished with 18 points and 6 assists, while Justine Baltazar (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Brandon Bates (10 points, 15 rebounds) each had double-doubles.
"I think we responded well today," said La Salle coach Gian Nazario. "The players responded, they showed urgency."
"It's a hard-fought win, and I'm proud of my guys," said La Salle active consultant Jermaine Byrd. "Every game for us is a playoff game."
La Salle appeared to be on its way to a comfortable win after Baltazar's jumper put them up, 78-68, with 3:04 left. Rhenz Abando responded with a triple, but Bates nailed with a close range bucket for an 80-71 count with 2:26 to go.
The Green Archers would not get on the board again, while Abando -- in his second game after a recruiting controversy that rocked UST -- tried to rally the Growling Tigers back into the contest.
The transferee from Pangasinan nailed a triple with 28.2 seconds to go, then evaded La Salle's defense for another three-pointer that made it a one-possession game, 80-77, with just 10.2 ticks left.
La Salle left the door open for UST when Caracut committed a turnover in their next possession, and Abando pulled up in transition for a shot that hit nothing but net with 1.3 seconds left. Upon review, however, it was shown that Abando's foot was on the line, and his shot counted for just two points.
That allowed La Salle to escape with the one-point win, after veteran guard Andrei Caracut ran out the clock by inbounding the ball off Ira Bataller.
Abando finished with 19 points, going 4-of-8 from long range, while Soulemane Chabi Yo had 17 points and 17 rebounds.
The Growling Tigers had led for most of the game, and were up 44-37 at the half. Malonzo sparked the Archers' rally in the third period, and they outscored UST, 26-13, in the pivotal quarter to set up the victory.
LA SALLE 80 -- Malonzo 23, Melecio 18, Baltazar 14, Bates 10, Hill 5, Manuel 5, Caracut 2, Serrano 2, Bartlett 1, Lojera 0.
UST 79 -- Abando 19, Chabi Yo 17, Cansino 9, Bataller 6, Subido 6, Paraiso 5, Huang 4, Nonoy 4, Ando 3, Concepcion 3, Cuajao 3, Bordeos 0.
Quarter scores: 19-24, 37-44, 63-57, 80-79
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