Defense continues to be the DLSU Green Archers’ greatest asset this season as they manhandled the UST Growling Tigers, 100-62, earlier today at the Mall of Asia Arena. The mayhem press installed by Head Coach Aldin Ayo allowed DLSU to score on fast break opportunities that left this season’s hosts fatigued in the second half.
Ben Mbala found his rhythm after the halftime break, finishing with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Jeron Teng had his struggles in this game, but he finished with 13 points, five rebounds, and two steals. Meanwhile, UST’s Renzo Subido led his team with 18 points, while Jon Sheriff was the only other UST scorer in double figures, as he finished with 11 points.
“This is what happens if we play as a team,” Ayo said after the game, adding that they worked on their team chemistry and execution in practice. “Well, I feel like we played good as a team,” Mbala added after the game.
Physical first half
The Green Archers started strong on both ends of the floor as they prevented a UST field goal during the game’s first four minutes. A Sheriff three-point play allowed the Growling Tigers to move to within a point, 5-4, with 6:40 left in the opening period. La Salle maintained the lead throughout the quarter, with Julian Sargent and Jollo Go combining for 10 points to put DLSU ahead by four points, 23-19, at the quarter’s end.
La Salle quickly found its offensive rhythm at the start of the second quarter as they built a 29-19 lead with 8:29 left before halftime behind baskets from Teng, Andrei Caracut, and Abu Tratter. UST then responded with a 10-2 run behind the efforts of Subido, who scored all of his six first half points during that crucial three-minute run.
Things got even more physical with three minutes left before halftime as both teams were called for fouls that sent players from both squads crashing to the floor. Caracut’s three-pointer with 3:27 left in the second quarter injected life back into the DLSU offense, which would go on a 10-3 run to give the Green-and-White a 41-32 lead with less than a minute before halftime. Mario Bonleon would hit a three-pointer, and Mbala would make three free throws to put the score at 44-35 in favor of La Salle heading into halftime.
DLSU pulls away
It was a different story in the second half as the Green Archers went on a 9-0 run to open the third quarter. Mbala more than doubled his first-half output of six points by the 8:02 mark, with DLSU holding a 55-37 lead over UST. The Growling Tigers could not emulate their first half efforts as they surrendered a 16-6 run for the next five minutes. Justine Baltazar, who had eight rebounds and five blocks in the win, made two free throws to give the Green Archers a 73-45 lead with 2:37 left before the fourth quarter.
“Sinasabi ko sa kanya [to] be natural [on the court],” Ayo said of Baltazar, who played 12 minutes in this game.
The Green Archers would further pad their lead in the final quarter, with Mbala’s free throw at the 7:42 mark in the fourth quarter giving DLSU an 81-51 lead. From there, the lead would continue to grow as DLSU’s backcourt continued to exert pressure despite the outcome of the game already being set. La Salle reached the century mark with 34 seconds left in the game thanks to a basket from Aljun Melecio.
DLSU dominated the rebounding department, holding a 59-41 advantage on the boards. The Green-and-White’s dominance was more evident when it came to offensive rebounds, notching 29 rebounds to UST’s nine.
The mayhem press that has become Ayo’s calling card forced UST into committing 40 turnovers, with nine coming from Subido alone. La Salle finished with 17 assists and 12 steals, while the Growling Tigers managed to finish the game with 11 assists and six steals.
“We [stayed] with our game plan,” Mbala added when asked to comment on his team’s success.
The Green Archers will aim for their fourth straight win when they head to the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to take on the NU Bulldogs on Sunday, September 18, at 2 pm.
“I want the opposing teams to keep on guessing,” Ayo said when talking about the strategies he has employed.
DLSU 100 – Mbala 18, Teng 13, Torres 11, Tratter 10, Melecio 8, Montalbo 8, Sargent 7, Go 7, R. Rivero 5, Caracut 5, P. Rivero 3, Paraiso 3, Baltazar 2, Dyke 0
UST 62 – Subido 18, Sheriff 11, Faundo 5, Vigil 5, Basibas 5, Afoakwah 4, Lao 4, Macasaet 3, Bonleon 3, Canunan 2, Huang 2, De Guzman 0, Lee 0, Arana 0
Quarterscores: 23-19, 44-35, 73-49, 100-62