By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
CJ Austria played hero ball for the struggling De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers and buried the buzzer-beating three-pointer to stun the Adamson Soaring Falcons, 81-78, in the ongoing UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament last November 17, 2022.
Needing a win to increase their chances of a UAAP Final Four finish, the Green Archers relied on their crisp ball movement to find an open Austria in the left elbow.
The play started after Evan Nelle refused the pick-and-roll and attracted two defenders once he got to the baseline.
After Nelle was trapped, he found Ben Phillips at the top of the key who later kicked out the more open shot that generated Austria’s final heave.
Austria had enough time to prepare and set his foot with 1.8 seconds and saw his high-looping three-pointer kiss the net while the buzzer sounded.
The whole DLSU mob then rushed to Austria and embraced him with their warmest hugs including some of their coaching staff members.
“I’ve been telling the boys we can’t lose our poise out there. The shot from CJ there, it was a shot from heaven,” said La Salle coach Derrick Pumaren.
DLSU’s win not only boosted their chances of a Final Four qualification but also ended their four-game skid to re-enter the winning column.
It was a much-needed victory for the green and white nation after entering the matchup one win behind Adamson, University of the East (UE), and Far Eastern University (FEU).
The Green Archers are currently in a tight position to enter the Final Four and are now in a four-team deadlock with those teams.
To further solidify their place in the Top 4 teams, the Green Archers must sweep their remaining games against the UP Fighting Maroons and the NU Bulldogs.
On the other hand, the Soaring Falcons aren’t out of the Final Four race yet and will also need to clinch back-to-back wins in their two remaining games.
Adamson will square off with UE on November 20 and will end their second-round elimination phase against the FEU Tamaraws.