MANILA—La Salle’s struggling campaign took another blow after veteran big man Yutien Andrada was declared unfit to play for the rest of the season due to a knee injury.
Andrada, a lanky 6-foot-5 center, sustained the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury during the Green Archers’ upset loss to the University of the East, 69-74, in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament last Saturday.
“He’s a big loss since he’s one of the veterans I’m relying on,” said La Salle coach Dindo Pumaren. “But we’re still positive. We have other guys ready to step up.”
Andrada was one of the team’s top rebounders in the first round, averaging 5.2 boards per game. He also normed five points and 1.3 assists.
Embattled by illnesses and injuries to key players recently, the Archers dropped to a share of fourth with the University of Santo Tomas Tigers at 4-5 after back-to-back losses at the start of the second round.
La Salle’s star guard LA Revilla, who was sidelined for two years due to diabetes, had health concerns the past weeks.
Key cogs Simon Atkins (head trauma) and Joshua Webb (viral infection) also had to skip a game, while Luigi dela Paz (thigh injury) played limited minutes in his last outing.
“Of course it has been a challenge, but the boys are trying to keep their focus,” said Pumaren. “We’re still hopeful that we’ll get over this hump.”
Far Eastern University, meanwhile, gained from the resurgent form of last season’s Most Valuable Player RR Garcia.
The Tamaraws, running third at 6-4, snapped a three-game slide with Garcia delivering in the clutch in back-to-back victories.
“We really trust [Garcia] with the ball,” said FEU coach Bert Flores.
Garcia earned the Accel-3XVI UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week honors after averaging 19.5 points in his last two games. The awards is backed by Gatorade.
The 5-foot-10 guard had an explosive show in FEU’s 59-53 nipping of the University of the Philippines, firing 18 of his 25 points in the final quarter to lift the Tamaraws from 16 points down in the last seven minutes.
Garcia also buried a crucial basket with 45.7 seconds left before finishing with 14 points in the Tamaraws’ 62-61 escape over Adamson last Sunday.