Perfection has been the story so far for the DLSU Green Archers as they clinched their eighth victory in as many games after beating the FEU Tamaraws, 91-71, yesterday in the quarterfinals of the FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup at the FilOil Arena in San Juan. Even though there were moments that showed room for improvement, La Salle continues to respond to every challenge thrown at them with months still left before UAAP Season 79.
La Salle’s dominant run in the tournament continued in large part behind the efforts of Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng, who led DLSU with 32 and 28 points, respectively. Aside from being the only double-figure scorers for the Green Archers, Mbala added 11 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks, while Teng added two steals and made 12 of his 18 field goal attempts.
Raymar Jose led FEU with 13 points and five rebounds, while Monbert Arong made all of his field goals to finish with 12 points. Three more other FEU players scored in double figures, as Steve Holmqvist added 11 points, while Richard Escoto and Ken Holmqvist each had 10 points.
The first two quarters showed both the Green Archers’ dominance and their ability to weather any comeback, the latter of which they struggled with in Season 78. As the dominant team from the opening tip, La Salle held a 10-4 lead with less than five minutes left in the first quarter. DLSU kept the defending UAAP champions at bay as they went on an 11-6 run behind the efforts of Teng and Mbala to take a 21-11 lead at the end of the opening frame.
In the second quarter, La Salle was able to withstand an FEU comeback attempt thanks to the efforts of its starters and rookies, who gave DLSU a 42-33 lead over the Tamaraws at halftime.
DLSU began to pull away in the second half, as Teng, Mbala, and Abu Tratter had their way around the paint. Even when FEU tried to threaten the lead, La Salle would find ways to respond to the Tamaraws, who could not trim the deficit to single digits entering the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the Tamaraws attempt one last rally, with their efforts bringing the DLSU lead down to seven points, 74-67. Stingy defense and FEU going over the foul limit near the halfway point of the final frame would stretch the DLSU lead back to double digits, developments that softened the blow of a Teng injury scare later in the game.
In terms of team statistics, it was FEU who won the battle in the rebounding (36-30) and the assists (21-16) department. DLSU’s Mayhem press was clearly evident even on paper, as they forced the Tamaraws to commit 33 turnovers, some of which came from the Green Archers’ eight steals. La Salle also had more attempts at the free throw line, as they had 26 to FEU’s five.
The Green Archers will return to the same venue this Friday, June 4, when they take on the Ateneo Blue Eagle at 4 pm. In their previous encounter, La Salle crushed Ateneo, 98-66, but the Blue Eagles will be coming in as a more confident squad after slipping past Perpetual Help, 68-59, in yesterday’s quarterfinal opener.