Despite the UAAP still being five months away, the DLSU Green Archers wasted no time in making sure that they were sharp on both ends of the floor against their archrivals, the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Led by Ben Mbala, who completely had his way around Ateneo’s big men, La Salle clinched a dominant 98-66 win earlier today in the FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup that kept them as the top team in Group B with a 5-0 win-loss record.
Mbala led the Green Archers after posting 28 points, 16 rebounds, and three blocks in the victory. Jeron Teng had 24 points, four rebounds, and four asissts, while Abu Tratter was the only other DLSU player who scored in double figures, finishing with 10 points on 4 of 7 shooting from the field. Thirdy Ravena and Ikeh Chibueze were the only Ateneo players in double figures, as both finished the game with 10 points.
The Green Archers came out of the gate as the more aggressive team as they went on a 10-2 run within the first three minutes of the game. Tratter and Mbala took turns in dominating the paint, extending the lead to 10, 16-6, with 5:21 left in the quarter. La Salle’s pressure defense was relentless, as the Blue Eagles could only rely on their transition offense to score. Ateneo would cut the lead to single digits multiple times but Mbala continued to assert himself with his putback dunks that set the tone for the first quarter, which ended with DLSU on top, 22-14.
Aljun Melecio and Kib Montalbo went on a 7-0 run during the first two minutes of the second quarter, giving DLSU a 29-14 lead. Montalbo would score eight points in the quarter, as La Salle would once again bring their lead back to 15, 36-21, thanks to an alley-oop play that Mbala completed off a Thomas Torres pass. The big man from Cameroon would use a bevy of moves around the post, while Tratter would give the Green Archers their largest lead of the quarter, at 42-21.
Later on, the game became physical as both teams were called for a multitude of fouls towards the end of the second quarter. In the end, layups from Andrei Caracut and Teng gave the Green Archers a 51-35 lead over the Blue Eagles at halftime.
In the second half, La Salle remained sharp on both ends of the floor as they stretched their lead behind the efforts of Teng and Mbala. Three-pointers from Melecio and Caracut allowed the lead to balloon to 27, 82-55, heading into the final quarter.
The game was well over by the time the fourth quarter began as Teng took over from where Mbala left off. DLSU head coach Aldin Ayo decided to field in some of his rookies in Brent Paraiso and Ricci Rivero, with both players still playing with the same intensity as that of the starters. In the end, the Green Archers were simply too much to handle, as a Teng jumpshot and a Rivero layup sealed the score at 98-66.
DLSU’s dominance was evident in the statistics as they held a 53-37 advantage in rebounds. Aside from having 17 assists to Ateneo’s 13, the Green Archers forced the Blue Eagles to commit 28 turnovers. Mbala also had more blocks than the entire ADMU squad, as they only had two in this game.
La Salle will return to the same venue on Thursday, June 2, when they take on the Lyceum Pirates at 3:15 pm.