The DLSU Green Archers suffered their first defeat of the season against their archrivals, the ADMU Blue Eagles, 83-71, earlier today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. La Salle’s hopes of achieving a perfect win-loss record for the season disappeared along with the advantage of garnering an automatic spot for the finals.
Jeron Teng led all scorers for La Salle, tallying 18 points and three rebounds. On the other hand, Ben Mbala had a tough night against the Blue Eagles, but still managed to register a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds. Meanwhile, Aaron Black shot seven out of ten from the field, notching 17 points and seven rebounds while handing La Salle their first loss this season.
“Sinasabi ko lang… na usual naming na gingawa, dapat matigas kami doon [sa depensa],” head coach Aldin Ayo said after the game, adding that at they will look at the game tape in the coming days.
Struggles from the get-go
La Salle drew first blood through Andrei Caracut’s three-pointer off an assist from Teng, who made a jumpshot following an Ateneo turnover. However, Anton Asistio opened the floor for Ateneo after making a three-pointer of his own. Mbala found himself struggling against what seemed to be a revitalized Ateneo team. ADMU pressured Mbala in the paint, not allowing him to score easy baskets. The big man only made six points in the first half, all coming from the charity stripe. Ateneo led La Salle, 21-16, nearing the end of the first chapter until Aljun Melecio drained a three-pointer at the 1:51 mark to stay close. Black would make a basket to close the quarter as the Blue Eagles led La Salle, 23-16.
Although the Blue Eagles were hindered by early foul trouble, La Salle was not able to capitalize. The Green Archers were also in a shooting slump, shooting only 28 percent from the field and three out of 12 from beyond the three-point arc.
The second quarter started with a jumper from Ateneo’s Raffy Verano, but then Melecio made his second three not long before Black scored on back-to back layups. Ateneo was able to spread the floor more and finished with 10 assists compared to La Salle’s five. A remarkable stat from the La Salle bench was Kib Montalbo’s five steals during the first half. Montalbo’s hustle on defense was effective, as he was able to convert 15 Ateneo turnovers to 14 points. The Blue Eagles managed to subdue the Green Archers for the remainder of the quarter despite La Salle’s smothering defense, however, as Ateneo led La Salle heading into halftime, 44-36.
Coming into the second half, La Salle sought to turn the tables. However, The Green Archers were not able to resolve their first half woes as their struggles continued to get the better of them. In the opening minutes of the third quarter, Mbala was able to get an open look inside, throwing down the ball. Right after, he denied Chibueze Ikeh’s shot in the paint. The sequence, a potential igniter for the Green Archers, blew up the La Salle crowd. Still, it was not enough to get the team back on track.
Collectively, La Salle was cold on the offensive end, a struggle which can be attributed to the pressure applied by Ateneo in the paint as they only let La Salle score 34 points inside. Blue Eagle big man Isaac Go was the main cause of trouble for the Archers’ big men offensively. Moreover, their shooting was lackluster as they shot a paltry 28.75 percent from the field.
The Green Archers maintained the usual pressure they enforce on defense, forcing the Blue Eagles to commit more turnovers than them, 26-20. Despite this, they could not take advantage of the opposing team’s mistakes, scoring only 10 points in the fast break, a team low. For each blow Ayo and his team dealt, Ateneo countered equally or even stronger. The Blue Eagles kept themselves distant from La Salle, preventing the team from Taft from making a comeback.
The Archers look to bounce back against their next opponent, the FEU Tamaraws, next Saturday, November 12, at 4 pm at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“As much as possible kasi, you want to make it a habit eh, yung winning,” Ayo said, adding that being a top-two team shouldn’t make them complacent in the coming days.
ADMU 83 – Black 16, Ma. Nieto 15, Wong 11, Go 10, Asistio 9, Verano 6, Ravena 4, Tolentino 4, Mi. Nieto 4, Mendoza 4, Ikeh 0, Babilonia 0
DLSU 71 -Teng 18, Mbala 17, Melecio 11, Montalbo 6, Caracut 6, P. Rivero 4, Perkins 3, Torres 3, Tratter 3, Go 0, R. Rivero 0, Baltazar 0, Sargent 0
Quarter scores: 23-16, 44-36, 61-50, 83-71