MANILA, OCTOBER 18, 2003 (STAR) By Dante Navarro  - De La Salle turned the UAAP-NCAA Bantay Bata 163 Showdown into an all-UAAP affair as the Archers toppled the reigning NCAA titlist Letran Knights, 84-66, yesterday to arrange a title clash with UAAP champion Far Eastern U, which subdued University of the East, 69-65, in the other semifinal contest at the Araneta Coliseum.

With the spitfirish Joseph Yeo on the firing end, the Archers held the Knights to just nine points in the third quarter while pumping 28 points of their own to turn a 42-45 deficit into a 70-54 bulge at the end of the period.

Yeo finished with 17 points, including two triples, while Jerwin Gaco fired 12 for the Archers, who simply traded baskets with the Knights in the final quarter and cruised to the runaway victory.

In contrast, the Tams needed to thwart off the Warriors’ series of rallies down the stretch to reassert their supremacy over the Recto-based cagers, whom they disposed of in their Final Four encounter in the recent UAAP wars en route to capturing the crown for the first time in six years.

The Tams and the Archers vie for the crown at 4 p.m. today with the former heavily fancied to put away the hard-fighting La Salle side and stake their claim as the most dominant team in the collegiate league.

Earlier, the Archers made Letran coach Louie Alas eat his words when the Taft-based cagers and fourth placers in this year’s UAAP wars ousted the reigning NCAA titlists with a convincing victory in their own duel for the first final berth.

Alas had previously said the series will serve as a venue for the NCAA teams to show their mettle and prove that they can measure up with the caliber of their counterparts from the UAAP league.

But the Archers’ victory coupled with the Tams’ win further underscored the higher level of play in the country’s most popular and glamorous league.

For awhile, the Knights, who foiled the Stags’ three-peat bid, appeared headed for a victory as they took control of the first two quarters but lost in the face of the Archers’ torrid attack at resumption of play.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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