Games Sunday (Araneta Coliseum)

2 p.m. Adamson vs NU

4 p.m. FEU vs Ateneo

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 (UP), 80-62, at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City Saturday.

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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.

Atkins, whose presence was virtually unfelt last season, reversed the tide on this game as he hoped for consistency in the next few outings.

“During the off-season I really worked hard on it, and I think they have respected me after that. So it’s all hard work and I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to just play my game and improved on my shooting. My mentality here is to make the players feel good and not just for myself. Everyone clicked and we won,” the Filipino-British cager said who had his last career-high of 12 points in the 2008-2009 season.

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.

The third year coach said he told his wards to “forget” their opening loss and concentrate on their July 17 duel with Adamson University (AdU).

“We’ll get better,” Castro said.

Upset win

In the 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.

Sophomore standout Jeric Teng paced the team’s unlikely win with 15 points, while Clark Bautista and newbie Eduardo Daquiog teamed up for 24 points.

“I told you so, yellow is lucky this year. Seriously, the boys experienced a laborious summer, like three to four months of physical and mental conditioning. We did not join any pre-season tournaments because if we lose, we will just lose our morale. We have a sloppy first half, that’s not our game. We played to each his own. My system is simple, if you’re free, shoot it,” said coach Pido Jarencio.

But even with the win, Teng said there’s no room for complacency.

“We haven’t proven anything yet because we are not in the Final Four yet,” he said.

Kenneth Acibar bannered the losing effort of the Red Warriors with 17 points, while Ebrahim Enguio and Paul Zamar tallied 10 and nine points, respectively.

The Scores:

First Game:

La Salle (80)- Atkins 20, Villanueva 13, Marata 10, Webb 9, Andrada 7, De La Paz 6, Vosotros 4, Mendoza 4, Ferdinand 4, Tolentino 3, Reyes 0, Paredes 0.

UP (62)- Silungan 17, Co 17, Sison 8, Reyes Martin 6, Manuel 5, Saret 2, Padilla 2, Maniego 2, Lopez 2, Reyes Miguel 1, Juruena 0.

Quarters: 19-13, 34-31, 56-47, 80-62.

Second Game:

UST (80) -- Teng 15, Bautista 14, Daquiog 10, Camus 10, Afuang 10, Mariano 7, Pe 4, Fortuna 4, Aytona 4, Tinte 2, Mamaril 0, Lo 0.

UE (67) – Acibar 17, Enguio 10, Zamar 9, Reyes 8, Martinez 7, Lee 7, Santos 5, Ayala 4, Razon 0, Duran 0.

(Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)