MANILA -- Simon Atkins, the 21-year-old shooting guard of De La Salle University (DLSU), is starting to prove that he deserves to be this season’s King Archer.

Atkins finished a career high 20 points of which 16 were drained in the first half to lead the opening day rally for the Archers against a pesky University of the Philippines, 80-62, at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The Archers under new mentor Dindo Pumaren dictated the game’s tempo from the start until the game’s close with UP managing to move just within three points, 34-31 in the second quarter.

Pumaren, who is seeking to redeem the Archers’ pride from its fifth place slump last season, welcomed his first win vice longtime coach Franz Pumaren.

“My veterans played well, Simon played well and I just told the boys to play beyond the three-point shooting because they have the tendency to do so. For UP, I know they are going to make some adjustments,” he told reporters.

The Taft-based dribblers figured well in most departments, with 14 fastbreak points, 22 turnover points, and 15 out of 34 shooting in the paint.

Team captain Woody Co and prized Chicago-based recruit Mike Silungan led the charge for the Maroons by chipping in 17 points, respectively.

As if caught by chance, the state university cagers experienced anew a disappointing loss to La Salle just like it did in the 2007 season opener.

“We played tight. Obviously we did not size up to them (La Salle) this time. We were able to cut down the lead only in the last three minutes of the first half and they left us midway into the third until the fourth quarter. One game does not define one season,” said coach Aboy Castro.

In other game, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) shocked a highly-favored University of the East (UE) quintet after hacking out a 80-67 victory. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)