SportsMilcu: Green Archers edge Blue Eagles in league opener, 80-71
Milcu: Green Archers edge Blue Eagles in league opener, 80-71

Yesterday at the FilOil Flying V Centre, the DLSU Green Archers opened their Milcu Sports Summer Basketball Showcase campaign on a high note as they beat the ADMU Blue Eagles, 80-71. Ben Mbala spearheaded the Green Archers with 22 points and 13 rebounds while Ricci Rivero also chipped in with 22 points. Kib Montalbo came off the bench for La Salle, but led the team in assists and steals, with six and four respectively. In the losing effort of the ADMU Blue Eagles, Thirdy Ravena and Mike Nieto led the team in scoring, with 17 points each.

Frenetic first half

Thirdy Ravena started the game strong by scoring the first six points for ADMU. Mbala and Andrei Caracut took turns in keeping the score within reach, but Tyler Tio had two straight field goals for the Blue Eagles to keep them ahead, 10-5, in the first three minutes of the game. Both teams then shuffled their players, but the lead and momentum remained with the Blue-and-White.

La Salle got its first lead in the game, 13-12, when Justine Baltazar converted a hook shot from the post. It was then followed by an ADMU turnover, which the Lasallians failed to capitalize on. Blue Eagle Brix Ramos then made a layup to re-take the lead and on the last play of the quarter, DLSU’s Joshua Gonzales received a technical foul for a second motion on Anton Asistio. The first quarter ended with ADMU holding on to a two point lead, 16-14.

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Asistio made the technical free throw at the beginning of the second quarter and it started a 6-0 run for the Ateneans. It was their biggest lead of the half at 22-14, but La Salle answered back with a 7-0 run, with Mbala and Abu Tratter leading the way. Asistio made his second three-pointer of the quarter to stop the run of the Lasallians, who made two free throws to keep their deficit close at 25-23. R. Rivero got his first dunk of the game at the 4:49 mark to tie the game at 25-all and it proved to be the spark La Salle needed as it ended the half with a 36-32 lead.

Thrilling second half

The team from Katipunan started the third quarter with a turnover, but Mike Nieto made amends by converting a layup to cut down La Salle’s lead at 36-34. The Green-and-White answered back with a 6-0 run that was capped off by a perfectly timed side-step layup by R. Rivero. Tension was raised anew as Aljun Melecio received a technical foul, but Tio was not able to convert the free throw. Both teams traded baskets throughout the quarter but the Ateneans eventually came out on top at the end of the third quarter, 57-54.

Ravena opened the final period in favor of the Blue-and-White, scoring five points through consecutive free throws and a layup to contribute to their lead. With a 56-65 deficit, the Green Archers were able to recover with an 8-0 run consisting of back-to-back transitional plays from the duo of R. Rivero and Caracut. Trading baskets on both ends of the court, both teams aimed to capitalize on their respective opportunities. With 2:19 remaining in the final frame, however, the Green Archers only continued to pull away with their lead, recording 10 unanswered points. R. Rivero capped off the game with a buzzer beater dunk, sealing the win for La Salle at 80-71.

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After the game, head coach Aldin Ayo commended the game overall as both he and his players were able to learn and pick up a thing or two from this matchup. “Madami pa kailangang trabahuin, especially finishing our shots, pero good thing in terms of trusting each other, yung chemistry, nandun na rin naman pero kailangan nalang namin dagdagan,” shared Ayo in explaining the key points for improvement that is needed for polishing and perfecting the tempo of the team.

(We still have to work on a lot of things, especially finishing our shots, but it’s a good thing that in terms of trusting each other, the chemistry, its there. We just have to improve on it.)

Overall, through the different leagues and tournaments the team has participated in, Ayo says that the team continuously adjusts to his system. He stated, “The first three months we spent, pinag-aralan or tinake up namin yung mga hindi nagawa last season. Yung objective namin ay dinadahan-dahan muna namin at dinadaanan namin lahat ng detalye, para pagdating ng UAAP season, hindi na kami magka-problema.”

(The first three months we spent, we studied what we couldn’t do last season. Our objective is to take things step-by-step and go through the details so come UAAP, we won’t have any problems.)

The head coach of the Green Archers affirms that the team is eager to fix the gray areas necessary to prepare for their opponents.

The Lasallians will next face the UST Growling Tigers  in the FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup on Sunday, May 14, at 5 pm in the same venue.

 The scores:

DLSU 80 – Mbala 22, R. Rivero 22, Caracut 15, Montalbo 6, Santillan 5, Baltazar 4, Tratter 4, P. Rivero 2, Gonzales 0, Melecio 0, Go 0

ADMU 71 – Ravena 17, Mi. Nieto 17, Asistio 9, Tio 8, Go 6, Ikeh 4, Ma. Nieto 4, Navarro 2, Almond 2, Ramos 2, Mamuyac 0, Tolentino 0, Reyes 0, Porter 0

Quarter scores: 14-16, 36-32, 54-57, 80-71