De La Salle University aims for solo lead as it stakes its spotless slate against University of the Philippines (UP) in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80 men’s basketball tournament today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Green Archers battle the Fighting Maroons at 4 p.m.
La Salle is tied with archrival Ateneo De Manila University at the top spot with identical 3-0 win-loss records. A win for the Taft-based? cagers will push them one game ahead of the idle Blue Eagles.
But the State U is bent on improving its 2-1 card and overtake National University on No. 3.
Aldin Ayo and the Archers look to rely anew on reigning Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala, who announced his return to the league off a national team duty for Cameroon with a collegiate career-best 32 points on top of 10 rebounds in their 85-73 victory over Adamson University last Wednesday.
Paul Desiderio, on the other hand, is tasked to lead the Bo Perasol-mentored squad after finishing with a career-high 28 points plus 10 boards in their 84-71 demolition of University of the East last Sunday.
The Maroons will also get additional boost as 6-foot-3 forward Rob Ricafort is set to make his debut this season after securing a Temporary Restraining Order from the Manila Regional Trial Court, which would allow him to play.
Ricafort was earlier deemed ineligible by the UAAP Eligibility Committee due for exceeding the maximum age limit of 25 years old.
Meanwhile, Far Eastern University eyes to bounce back from a loss as it tangles with a winless University of Sto. Tomas in the opening game at 2 p.m.
The Tamaraws (1-2) aim to atone for their 82-94 defeat to Ateneo while the Growling Tigers (0-3) try to break into the win column.
JEREMIAH M. SEVILLA