De La Salle University engaged in a neck-and-neck battle against Adamson University before escaping with an 86-79 win on Sunday to stay undefeated in eight games in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Center Ben Mbala sizzled with 18 points on 10-of-14 shooting in the foul line to lead the Green Archers, while Ricci Rivero added 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the field along five rebounds and five assists to give La Salle a league-leading 8-0 win-loss record.
“Close game,” said La Salle coach Aldin Ayo during the post-game interview. “But we still stick to our game plan. Good thing my players responded to the challenges and we executed well. “I’m not complaining about officiating. I just keep reminding the boys if we continue winning, the harder it gets.”
“It’s good that we stick together until the end,” said Mbala.
Aljun Melencio provided La Salle with 11 points, while Thomas Torres and Kim Montalbo contributed nine and eight points, respectively, for La Salle.
Jeron Teng missed his second straight game for La Salle after undergoing surgery on his left heel to remove bone spurs.
La Salle out-rebounded Adamson, 51-41.
Rookie Jerrick Ahanmisi scored 11 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter on 10-of-17 shooting in the field plus seven rebounds to lead the Falcons, who dropped to 4-4 win-loss record. Cameroonian Papi Sarr posted 13 points and six rebounds also for Adamson.
In the first game, Monbert Arong hit the game-winning jumper with only 3.7 ticks left to send defending champion Far Eastern University (FEU) to a narrow 57-56 come-from-behind victory against National University (NU) for fifth victory.
Arong, who scored 13 points on a measly 5-of-13 shooting in the field plus two rebounds, evaded NU’s center Alfred Aroga’s towering defense before pulling off the game winning jumper. Aroga’s buzzer-beating jumper then was way off the mark allowing the Tamaraws to escape with the win.
FEU’s Raymar Jose tallied 14 points along with 12 rebounds and two steals, while Wendelino Comboy contributed seven points to hand the Tamaraws a 6-2 win-loss record that kept them in the second place. FEU also won over NU (78-75) at the end of first round last Wednesday.
“They (NU) defended us well and they made it really hard for us to execute. Monbert was playing hurt earlier. He hurt his ankle in the last game, so we are trying to manage his minutes,” FEU coach Nash Racela told reporters during the post game press conference.
“NU made good adjustments for today’s game,” he added. “Monbert was struggling, but I’m happy that he got a strength and confidence for that last play.”
The Bulldogs, who fell to 4-4 win-loss record, were leading in halftime, 32-30, and at the end of third period, 50-45, but couldn’t sustain their impressive performance in the last quarter allowing the Tamaraws to comeback.
Arong led FEU’s fightback in the payoff period unleashing a 12-6 run highlighted by his seven points, including his game winner.
Aroga registered 22 points plus 13 rebounds and three blocks to lead the Bulldogs. But Aroga was scoreless in the final quarter when he was needed most.
FEU’s defense also held off scorer Jay-Jay Alejandro to just 1-of-10 shooting in the field for seven points. Alejandro had an average of 12.7 points and 5.0 rebounds in the first round.