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Alquiros scores brace as La Salle takes lead

By Dugout Philippines

QUEZON CITY--Nate Alquiros netted a brace as La Salle zeroed in on the No. 1 seeding in UAAP Season 77 men's football semifinals, hammering out a satisfying 3-0 victory over fancied UP on Thursday at the FEU-Diliman pitch.

The Green Booters got into the offensive groove late in the second half and kept ace Fighting Maroons ace Jinggoy Valmayor at bay to move on top of the table with 29 points with a match to spare.

UP dropped joint second with FEU with 27 points, as the Maroons are facing at the possibility of taking the defending champions in the Final Four.

"This is the best game we played," said La Salle mentor Hans Smit, whose squad remained unbeaten with eight wins and five draws. "I told the boys, regardless what happens, we achieved our target (Final Four). But now we are here, why not go all the way and see how far we can go and this is morale booster."

Earlier, Adamson finally nailed a point on its return in men's football after more than a decade of absence, battling a 10-man UE to a 2-2 draw in a duel of last-placed teams.       

From a Yoshi Koizumi assist, Alquiros found the back of the net in the 77th minute to open the scoring for the Green Booters.

After Chuck Uy got fouled inside the box, Alquiros took UP keeper Ace Villanueva the wrong way and converted the penalty kick seven minutes later to give La Salle a 2-0 lead.

The Green Booters, who will take on the NU Bulldogs in the final elimination matchday on Sunday, then sealed the game with Uy rebounded Villanueva's deflection of a Koizumi free kick in stoppage time for a three-goal cushion.

Bless Jumo II scored a goal from a Jusuel Pilarca cross in the 28th minute and assisted his twin brother Bless I's equalizer on the 85th which ended Adamson's 12-match losing skid.

The Red Warriors, who remained at four points, got two goals from Regil Galaura in the 32nd and 84th minute.

"It's a no-bearing game pero sinabi ko sa mga bata na maglaro lang ng maayos. Nag-usap kami ng players at sinabi ko sa kanila bago matapos ang season na makakuha kami kahit draw," said Falcons coach Nolan Manito.

"I won't promise, but in the next season, Adamson promised support for the team and may pupuntahan kami," he added.