The DLSU Green Archers fell short against the San Beda Red Lions in the first game of the PCCL Finals, 88-81, yesterday at the Ynares Sports Arena.
Despite being riddled with foul trouble, Ben Mbala managed to contribute a game-high of 26 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in La Salle’s losing effort.
Red Lions Ola Adeogun and Baser Amer led their squad with 20 and 19 points respectively. Roldan Sara, on the other hand, garnered 15 markers, including four three-pointers that kept the Red Lions out of reach for most of the game.
Similar to their first encounter, the Green Archers struggled to set plays in the half court during the opening quarter. Rookie forward Prince Rivero became the center of DLSU’s offense, scoring six of his 12 points in the first period.
Meanwhile, the Red Lions had a balanced scoring while crashing the offensive boards, resulting to six second-chance points in the first twelve minutes of play. The opening quarter ended with a score of 23-18 in favor of the five-time NCAA Champions.
Down by six entering the second quarter, speedy guard Kib Montalbo looked to take over the scoring load, as his hustle and effort erased the deficit by scoring six points.Montalbo scored from aggressive drives to the paint, four of which came from the free throw line. Green Archer Matt Salem also converted on a three pointer, contributing to an 11-3 run, to give La Salle the lead early in the period.
However, after nearly five minutes of failing to make a field goal, the Red Lions came back roaring on a 14-7 rally. This gave them a 43-37 advantage on the strength of big man Ola Adeogun, along with the long-range bombs by other San Beda shooters to end the first half.
The Green Archers wasted no time in cutting the Mendiola-based squad’s lead. Cameroonian center Mbala led the Archers off the halftime break with dominant showing in the paint. Bullying his opposition in the post with sheer strength, Mbala tallied 13 points in the period rendering the Bedan frontline helpless. His defense was on full display as he swatted away three shots, with one spiked out like a volleyball.
Points in the paint were difficult and came seldom for San Beda, but such was not a problem given their steady shooting from the perimeter. The backcourt tandem of Sara and Michole Sorelaburned both La Salle and the hoop to counter the Green-and-White’s paint-pounding attack. Adding insult to injury, Baser Amer nailed a three pointer to give the Red Lions a nine-point cushion entering the final period.
With only two points separating the teams, Coach Juno Sauler opted to sport a tall lineup early in the final period, fielding in Abu Tratter, Mbala, and Rivero at the same time. Despite this, DLSU still managed to convert on fast-break opportunities due to their hounding defense on the other side of the court. This kept them at bay for most of the quarter, chipping their deficit to one in the last 90 seconds of the game.
Down by three, a costly turnover by Mbala led to a basket by Adeogun, which stretched the lead to five in the last forty seconds of play. With DLSU forced to foul late in the game, Adeogun continued adding points to his name as he made all but one of his six free-throw attempts in the final thirty seconds.
The Green Archers failed to come back within striking distance after missing most of their desperation shots from the three-point line.
The second game in the best-of-three series will tip-off on Monday, December 1 at 4 pm in the Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig City.
San Beda(88)-Adeogun20, Baser19, Sara 15, De La Cruz 14, Mendoza 8, Sorela 6, Soberano 2, Koga 2, Tankoua 1, Mocon 0, Tongco, 0
DLSU(81)-Mbala 26, Montalbo, 13, Rivero 12, Tratter 10, Teng 9, Torres 8, Salem 3, Bolick 0, Mustre 0
Quarter scores: 23-18, 20-19, 18-22, 27-22