By Jean Malanum

CHAMPIONS. The De La Salle Green Archers pose for a photo after winning the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball title over the University of the Philippines at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday (Dec. 6, 2023). La Salle defeated UP, 73-69, to win its 10th title. (Photo from UAAP)

MANILA – De La Salle University claimed the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball title after beating the University of the Philippines (UP), 73-69, in deciding Game 3 of their title series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night.

Kevin Quiambao, who was named the Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP), finished with 24 points, highlighted by four triples, along with nine rebounds, four assists, and two blocks for the Green Archers, who leveled the series with an 82-62 victory in Game 2.

Evan Nelle contributed 12 points, seven assists, six rebounds, two steals, and one block, while Jonnel Policarpio and Mark Nonoy had eight points each.

The Fighting Maroons, which led 43-39 at halftime and 58-55 going into the fourth quarter, was paced by Malick Diouf with 21 points, 14 rebounds, two steals, two assists, and one block.

Francis Lopez chipped in 12 points, nine rebounds, four steals, three blocks, and three assists, while Harold Alarcon added 10 points for UP, which won Game 1 (97-67).

“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,” Green Archers head coach Topex Robinson said.

Robinson joined an elite list of La Salle coaches who won the title in their first year, consisting of Franz Pumaren, Juno Sauler, and Aldin Ayo.

Meanwhile, the University of Santo Tomas rallied in the fourth quarter and banked on Angelina Villasin’s fastbreak layup to capture the women’s title after 17 years.

Villasin delivered the crucial basket in the last 11.8 seconds as the Growling Tigresses dethroned the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs, 71-69, in Game 3 of their best-of-three title series.

UST took Game 1, 76-72, while NU won Game 2, 72-70.

Reynalyn Ferrer, named Finals MVP, finished with 19 points, 14 rebounds, two steals, and one block for UST, which rallied from a 47-61 third-quarter deficit to claim its 12th title.

Season 85 MVP Kristine Cayabyab led NU with 18 points and four rebounds.

“I’m really at a loss for words. I’m really so happy for the girls, they did it. We were down big, 15 points, I told them don’t give up, stick together, let’s do it little by little until the fourth quarter, and NU gave us a lot of chances to catch up,” UST head coach Haydee Ong said.

“We made good stops in the last one minute. I think that spelled the difference, the heart of my players that didn’t give up even when they were down 15,” the former national team mentor added. (PNA)