De La Salle University was simply too much for the skidding University of Santo Tomas (UST), coasting to a 94-59 victory to secure a playoff for the No. 2 spot in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80 men’s basketball on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Green Archers dominated the Growling Tigers in the second and third periods to pull away early and extend their winning streak to five games and more importantly assured themselves of a Ben Mbala played just 19 minutes but still collected 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks as La Salle continued its mastery over its 90s rivals for the second straight season.
Ricci Rivero added 16 points while Jolo Go and Prince Rivero chipped in 12 and 10 markers, respectively, for the Taft-based team.
“We played well on defense. We forced them to turnovers and got back on our transition plays. We stayed focus and stick to the game plan,” said the reigning Most Valuable Player, whose 17 markers was his lowest this season.
The Cameroonian also lauded the bench as they sustained their energy and gave the starters the much-needed rest.
“It means the second group is doing well,” added Mbala.
After a tight first quarter with the Green Archers holding a 20-16 lead, Ricci Rivero unloaded 11 of his total output in the second period where La Salle outscored UST, 25-8, to take a 45-24 cushion entering the break.
Their lead ballooned as high as 42 points, 85-43, with 6:39 remaining in the fourth quarter as the Growling Tigers dropped their 12 straight loss in as many games.
The 0-12 mark is already the worst record of the Espana-based squad in the Final Four era.
Marvin Lee led all scorers with 25 points while Steve Akomo was the only other UST player in double figures with 14.
It was the fourth straight time La Salle scored a huge victory over UST. The Green Archers also pulled off a convincing 115-86 win in their first-round meeting.
Last season, La Salle also waylaid the Growling Tigers, 110-62 in the first round and 99-56 in the second round of Season 79 where UST finished 3-11.