UAAP OPENING: SMALL MAN PLAYS BIG AS ARCHERS WIN

Manila, July 14, 2003 By Abac Cordero (Star) For the last 15 years, the Green Archers have never lost on opening day of the UAAP. Last night, they almost did.

Thanks to Ty Tang, a sophomore point guard who played like a real veteran, La Salle escaped defeat when it turned back Santo Tomas, 88-75, on the first day of the UAAPís 66th season at the Araneta Coliseum.

At 19 years and 5-foot-8, Tang is one of the youngest and smallest players in the league right now. But against the Tigers, he delivered some of the biggest baskets and set up some of the biggest plays.

The Tigers were up, 64-59, heading into the final quarter when Tang, who rode the bench last year with Mike Cortez around, ignited a back-breaking 16-0 run that had the Green Archers racing to an 11-point lead with only four minutes remaining.

Tang hit a high-looper from eight feet to give La Salle the lead for good at 66-64, then fed wide-open rookie Joseph Casio for a triple on the next play. He had a breakaway layup later on and banged in a triple from the left wing in the dying seconds.

Asked how he felt playing his first big game for La Salle, Tang said: "Iím nervous and excited."

Overall, he had 11 points in 26 minutes on top of five rebounds and seven assists.

"He has really matured. And he has no choice but to step up being the senior point guard of the team. Imagine, my senior point guard is a sophomore," said coach Franz Pumaren, who led the Archers to four straight titles starting in 1998.

"Mike Cortez as his tutor last year probably helped him a lot, too," said Pumaren, who, with a young team full of rookies, sees much tougher days ahead this year.

Also playing big games for La Salle were Mark Cardona, Joseph Yeo, Jerwin Gaco, Manny Ramos, the oldest in the team at 22.

While the Archers were pulling away, Santo Tomas coach Aric del Rosario was fuming on the bench, either egging on his players or nagging the referees for what he later described as "non-calls."

Also winning on opening day was National University, which showed some promise in beating University of the Philippines, 74-70.

The season gets going today with defending champion Ateneo going up against UE, and FEU taking on Adamson.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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