UAAP ELIMS: U.E. WARRIORS CAP HISTORIC SWEEP OVER LA SALLE ARCHERS
MANILA, SEPTEMBER 13, 2007 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - A punch that was thrown late in the opening period yesterday did not stop the UE Warriors from sweeping the UAAP elims.
Instead, the Warriors used it as the driving force that carried them past the La Salle Green Archers in overtime, 92-84, and into a special place in the league’s colorful history.
“I don’t want to say this but maybe they (La Salle) thought it would change the momentum,” said coach Dindo Pumaren inside the victorious Warriors dugout.
“But my players showed their true character. They cannot be cowed,” he added after securing their 14th win of the season and advancing straight into the best-of-three finals.
It was Santo Tomas which scored the last sweep in the UAAP, doing the rare feat in 1993. The victory gave the Tigers the title outright, and the following year the UAAP put into the place the Final Four format.
The last time UE made it to the finals was in 1990 when it lost to La Salle. The last time UE won the crown was in 1986.
“It’s better for us to get there to the finals first than go through the Final Four,” said Pumaren who had a harrowing experience last year when they lost a twice-to-beat advantage to UST in the semis.
“But this is nothing if we don’t achieve our ultimate goal. I told them there’s nothing to celebrate. Yes, we’re in the finals but this is not what the school is dreaming of. We want the title,” he said.
After the final buzzer, and before a huge crowd, the Warriors celebrated on centercourt as their coach approached his elder brother, La Salle coach Franz Pumaren.
“The finals. That’s what we got for this sweep. Now we have to prepare for the finals. This is just half of the job. No need to celebrate. The ultimate goal has yet to be achieved,” he added.
Trouble erupted with only 56.6 seconds left in the opening quarter and the game tied at 16, sending players from the opposing teams charging and on the brink of a free-for-all.
A hard foul by Rico Maierhofer on Mark Borboran led to some taunting, pushing and shoving in front of the La Salle bench until Archer Bryan Ilad turned puncher, hitting Mark Fampulme from behind.
Maierhofer was slapped an unsportsmanlike foul, Fampulme a technical for taunting, and Ilad was thrown out for punching, and faces suspension. Both benches were slapped technical fouls.
Earlier, FEU continued to defy the odds, beating defending champion UST for the second time this year, 84-73, and forcing a playoff on Monday for the fourth and last slot in the semis.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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