De La Salle University swept the first round of University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 men’s basketball tournament after a one-sided 97-81 triumph over archrival Ateneo De Manila University on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Green Archers, playing without the injured skipper Jeron Teng and suspended head coach Aldin Ayo, found no problem in dealing with the Blue Eagles offensively and defensively in the last three quarters of play in front of the 16, 212 crowd.
Cameroonian Ben Mbala registered his seventh double-double in the league by piling up 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting in the field plus 13 rebounds and five steals, while guard Andrei Caracut added 14 points and Abu Tratter made 10 points to lead the Green Archers, who cruised to their seventh straight win.
“We knew we have to get into our opponent’s heads. That’s mayhem,” said Green Archers assistant coach Louie Gonzales during the post game press conference. “Every game we are improving and we’re also getting familiar with our opponents.”
Thomas Torres, Kim Montalbo and Ricci Rivero posted eight points apiece for La Salle.
The Blue Eagles dropped to 4-3 win-loss record. John Wong led Ateneo with 15 points.
After a 20-all ending in the first quarter, the Green Archers went on a scoring rampage in the final three periods to rout the Blue Eagles.
Gonzales substituted for Ayo, who was serving a one-game suspension after being ejected during a game against University of the East (UE) last week. Despite his absence in the second half, La Salle survived UE in that game.
Teng underwent a surgery to remove bone spurs on his left heel last week and he might be out for at least a week.
Earlier, University of the East (UE) snapped a six-game losing skid by posting a 64-57 come-from-behind win over Adamson University behind a strong fourth quarter showing. The Red Warriors, after trailing in the first three quarters, outscored the Falcons in the payoff quarter, 24-12, to seize the win.
Alvin Pasaol led the Red Warriors with 13 points, including seven crucial points in the final canto, to go along with seven rebounds and three assists plus two steals, while Ronnie De Leon produced 12 points and Edson Batiller made nine points to give UE a 1-6 win-loss record.
“I feel bad for Franz (Pumaren) because we had to get our first win from him. But it’s nothing personal,” said Franz’s elder brother and UE coach Derrick Pumaren during the post game interview. We need to win because we were down in a deep hole.”
“That’s what we need to crawl out of the bottom so it doesn’t matter if we’re playing Franz or the other teams, we just have to win this ballgame,” he added. “When we had the lead, I was reminding the boys there’s nothing to celebrate yet as the game’s far from over.”
The Falcons started the game well leading by 14-7 and closing out halftime ahead at 30-21. The Red Warriors fought well in the third period and cut the deficit to just 40-45 before sustaining their impressive performance in the last quarter.
Pasaol, De Leon and Batiller joined forces in crunch time to seize the lead. After snatching the lead in the early part of fourth quarter, the Red Warriors grabbed a comfortable lead of 57-48 behind the basket of De Leon in the later of the game.
Adamson, which fell to 3-3 win-loss record, could not recover from thereon. Cameroonian Papi Sarr led the Falcons with 13 points and 25 rebounds.