De La Salle University beat University of Santo Tomas (UST) for the second time this season, 99-56, on Sunday in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum. The Green Archers are now unbeaten in 11 games.
La Salle scored a 100-62 victory over UST in the first round.
Skipper Jeron Teng and rookie Ben Mbala led the Green Archers to victory that also entitled them to the first twice-to-beat incentive in the Final Four.
The Business Management student from Cameroon notched his 11th double-double by tallying 21 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the field on top of 15 rebounds and five blocks.
“Yeah I think so. I’m not rechecking the stats I just keep on playing,” Mbala told The Manila Times. “Well I think it is a process that I have to take just one game at a time. Everything will depend on coach (Aldin Ayo). I will just listen to him and follow the game plan.”
Teng finished with 16 points while Justine Baltazar had 10 points and 12 rebounds. Forward Ricci Rivero and power forward Jason Perkins contributed nine points and eight points, respectively, also for the Green Archers.
“Despite the 11 wins, we must remain humble because we have not achieved anything yet,” said Teng. “We keep on grinding and take it one game at a time. There’s still room for improvement.”
After establishing a 19-15 lead in the first period, the Green Archers initiated a 26-8 run led by Mbala and Teng resulting in a 45-23 advantage at the half.
The Growling Tigers failed to catch up in the third period as La Salle stretched the lead to a hefty, 68-37, going to the payoff frame.
The Green Archers owned the final canto through a 31-19 run that widened the gap to an insurmountable 40 points, ensuring them of victory.
“Just continue improving each game,” said La Salle assistant coach Paolo Sauler. “Hope we can start the game better, continue building our team and work on our improvements.”
The Green Archers conquered the Growling Tigers in rebounds (66-35), assists (18-9) and blocks (7-3).
La Salle, with an 11-0 win-loss record, could also get an automatic slot in the finals if it won all three of its remaining games.
UST suffered its eighth setback in 11 games for a 3-8 win-loss record.
Louie Vigil led the Growling Tigers with 18 points and seven rebounds.
In the second game, Ateneo De Manila University outlasted National University (NU), 65-50, to improve its win-loss record to 6-4 and keep its hold of the third place. Guard Rafael Verano stepped up with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting in the field to lead the Blue Eagles.
“Coming to this game, we believe that NU is a little bit desperate and its system is tough so we make sure we match or surpass its defense,” said Ateneo coach Sandy Arespacochaga. “We have seen a glimpse of Rafael (Verano) before and we’re happy with his performance.”
“Final Four chances and we’re taking one game at a time—we can’t look too far ahead.”
The Bulldogs’ win-loss record after a five-game losing skid dropped to 4-7.
Jay-Jay Alejandro finished with 13 points to lead NU.
JOSEF T. RAMOS