The DLSU Green Archers notched their third straight win this preseason after cruising past the Mapua Cardinals, 93-76, yesterday in the FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup at the FilOil Arena in San Juan City.
Despite finishing the first half with a seven-point deficit, the Green Archers were able to get back into the game behind a monster performance from Ben Mbala, who finished with 29 points, 22 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. Abu Tratter added 17 points and eight rebounds to help La Salle win the highly physical match against their NCAA opponents.
Andrew Estrella led the charge for the Cardinals with 17 points, while Almel Orquina scored 13 points built on four three-pointers. NCAA MVP Allwell Oraeme was limited to only eight points after dealing with injuries throughout the game.
The game had a slow start as neither team could score a bucket in the first few minutes. Down by four, 9-5, Mapua went on a 7-0 run behind two quick floaters from Estrella to grab a 12-9 lead with less than two minutes to go in the first quarter. Kib Montalbo would end the quarter with a lay-up to bring the score to 16-14 in favor of DLSU.
Even if La Salle held a slight advantage after the opening quarter, the second quarter ended in Mapua’s favor. Both teams played with more physicality than the usual preseason game, and by half-time, the Cardinals held a 39-32 lead over the Green Archers.
Mbala opened the third quarter with a monster jam to bring the Green Archers back into the game. They slowly chipped away at the deficit behind strong inside play from him and Tratter, while also taking advantage of the absence of Oraeme. Thomas Torres scored on a lay-up to give La Salle the lead near the end of the quarter. Suddenly down by six, 60-54, the Cardinals answered back with a 7-0 run to close out the third frame with a 61-60 lead.
By the fourth quarter, the Green-and-White would finally run away with the game, outscoring Mapua 33-15 due to La Salle’s relentless full-court press. Mbala and Tratter continued to pummel Mapua’s big men inside the paint, while the backcourt of Torres and Jeron Teng converted on easy lay-ups off turnovers.
However, an altercation between Montalbo and Oraeme ensued in unsportsmanlike fouls between both players, resulting in their immediate ejection. It was an otherwise unfortunate occurrence caused by the physical play throughout the match.
In the game stats, DLSU outrebounded Mapua, 53-30, to dominate the battle in the paint, with 27 of those boards coming off the offensive glass. The Taft-based squad also won the free throw battle after attempting 47 free throws as opposed to the Cardinals’ 26 attempts. The physicality of the match led to both teams committing a large amount of fouls, with 33 for Mapua and 27 for the Green Archers.
Coming up next for La Salle are the San Beda Red Lions, whom they will face this Saturday, May 21, at 5 pm in the same venue.