The absences of Aldin Ayo and Jeron Teng were not enough to slow down the streaking DLSU Green Archers as they defeated the ADMU Blue Eagles, 97-81, earlier today at the Mall of Asia Arena. All 14 Green Archers who suited up played and contributed in the resounding victory over their rivals. This was the perfect cherry on top for a team that sits atop the UAAP standings after an undefeated first round.
Ben Mbala was in a class of his own in the game, garnering a final stat line that included 28 points, 13 rebounds, five steals, and a block. Andrei Caracut and Abu Tratter each added 14 and 10 points, respectively, but it was Kib Montalbo’s five steals that ignited DLSU and embodied what the team calls mayhem.
After the game, Mbala said that it was all about sticking to the game plan. Caracut added that it was about “enjoying the game and doing what we needed to do.”
Adrian Wong and Matt Nieto had 15 and 13 points, respectively, while Thirdy Ravena added a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds for ADMU in the losing effort.
Mbala immediately made his presence felt, scoring on a dunk and blocking ADMU shots on the other end. Ravena, though, continued to respond for the Blue Eagles, scoring eight points of his own to keep ADMU close. It was a back and forth battle that saw both teams trying to feel each other out. At the end of the first quarter, the score was tied at 20-all.
ADMU began the second quarter on a positive note, scoring on three-point shots from Matt Nieto and Kris Porter, which gave them the lead, 26-20. DLSU, however, was able to respond with a 13-0 run, highlighted by its signature mayhem defense and five points from veteran Jason Perkins.
A Jolo Mendoza three-pointer stopped the Blue Eagles’ drought at the 5:49 mark, but it did not stop the Green Archers, who continued to stay relentless on both ends of the floor. Frustrations started to set in for the team in blue as Ravena and Tolentino were both charged with unsportsmanlike fouls in the middle of the La Salle run. Undeterred, the Green Archers continued to execute and outscored ADMU, 33-16, in the second quarter.
After the game, Coach Louie Gonzales says what changed in the second period was the team’s mindset. “The goal was to cause hell for the opponent, cause problems, and get in their heads. That is mayhem.”
Even with a 17 point lead, the Green Archers never took their foot off the gas, beginning the second half on a 9-0 run. The DLSU defense caused the Blue Eagles too many problems in the open court, not allowing them to set-up their offense correctly. Nevertheless, the Katipunan-based squad continued to fight even with the deficit they faced, continuously getting to the foul line and slowly chipping away at the lead. A Torres-Mbala alley-oop, though, awakened the Green-and-White and the team never looked back. The DLSU lead was at 80-58 after three quarters of play.
The fourth quarter began with Mbala continuing to assert himself. With points and stellar defense from every Lasallian on the court, the Green Archers continued to control the game. ADMU was able to convert on five three-pointers in the quarter, but its last-ditch effort was not enough for the victory.
DLSU dominated the paint, outscoring ADMU, 52-28, in the shaded area. La Salle also turned 30 Blue Eagle turnovers into 33 points in a game it led by as much as 27 points.
In lieu of the absence of Teng, the Green Archers relied on a team effort to replace his production. Brent Paraiso, who started in Teng’s place, Ricci Rivero, and Julian Sargent all did a formidable job in the team captain’s stead.
After the game, Caracut said it was all about working together. “Lahat kami, we just did our parts.”
Coach Gonzales, who took over for the suspended Ayo, said, “We just did what coach Aldin wants from us, which is to be responsible.”
Mbala reiterated that this win was for Coach Ayo, who was watching from the DLSU dorm. “This win is dedicated to our coach. This was for him.”
As of press time, the second round schedule has yet to be released.
DLSU 97- Mbala 28, Caracut 14, Tratter 10, Torres 8, Montalbo 8, R. Rivero 8, Melecio 5, Perkins 5, Dyke 4, Baltazar 2, Go 2, Paraiso 2, P. Rivero 1, Sargent 0
ADMU 81- Wong 15, Ma. Nieto 13, Assistio 11, Ravena 11, Mendoza 9, Ikeh 7, Porter 6, Go 5, Babilonia 2, Mi. Nieto 2, Tolentino 0, Verano 0
Quarter scores: 20-20, 53-36, 80-58, 97-81.