After a short hiatus due to the Undas break, the second half of UAAP Basketball is once again in full swing. With the season sweep in near sight, the DLSU Green Archers will once again take on the ADMU Blue Eagles in the second part of the epic Taft-Katipunan rivalry. With a win, the Green Archers will move on to a 13-0 record, inching one step closer to an automatic spot in the finals, while the currently third-seeded Eagles will look to improve to an 8-4 record.
In their previous meeting last October 2, DLSU dominated ADMU in what was a lopsided game. Ben Mbala’s performance, highlighted by 28 points and an alley-oop dunk, pumped up the La Salle crowd and silenced Ateneo’s. The Green Archers’ solid team play was key to the resounding victory. Kib Montalbo’s hustle throughout the game gave DLSU five steals, exhibiting the notable pressure defense of the team. The mayhem they displayed was in full effect, both in offense and defense, preventing the opposition from gaining any momentum. In addition, Andrei Caracut and Abu Tratter also stepped up in the previous clash of the rivalry.
Preventing a recurrence of this domination in their second matchup will be vital for the Blue Eagles in their attempt to halt La Salle’s run. Previously, ADMU failed to get on a good offensive rhythm and were unable to match La Salle’s inside presence in the paint. Another necessity is slowing down MVP candidate Mbala, who currently leads the UAAP in rebounds and blocks. Throughout 13 games, teams have attempted to stop Mbala, to no avail. Jeron Teng continues to be aggressive on his last playing year for the Green-and-White, scoring 20 points in their last outing against UE. Production from the key players of the Blue Eagles will be needed if they want to deal La Salle its first loss. Veterans Thirdy Ravena and Adrian Wong are going to have to improve their first-round performances versus a persistent La Salle team to come up with a win. In other news, rookie Raffy Verano of ADMU finished with 20 points in their latest game against NU. He may serve as a pivotal factor to turn the game in favor of Ateneo.
La Salle’s stellar rookies have been contributing to the team’s effort this whole season. Backup point guard Aljun Melecio and wingman Ricci Rivero have been some of the go-to guys for coach Aldin Ayo. Meanwhile, Justin Baltazar provides support in protecting DLSU’s side of the court. With a couple of games remaining for the Green Archers, the rookies will further showcase the future of La Salle basketball as they try to help achieve a perfect record for the season.
The most intense rivalry in the league between the Green Archers and the Blue Eagles will once again take place on Saturday, November 5, at 4 pm at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.