The DLSU Green Archers once again fell at the hands of the SBC (San Beda College) Red Lions behind a go-ahead three-pointer from former Green Archer Robert Bolick with eight seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. A close battled ensued between the reigning UAAP and NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) champions until the Lasallians faltered and failed to defend their FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup title, losing to the Red Lions, 75-72.
Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Best Defensive Player Ben Mbala had a double-double performance with 25 points and 14 rebounds and led La Salle’s defense with four blocks. Aljun Melecio, on the other hand, contributed 14 points and eight rebounds.
Bolick led SBC with 24 points, eight rebounds, and six assists while Javee Mocon added 13 points and as many rebounds for the team from Mendiola.
Despite the loss, Melecio still believed that their performance was at par with SBC. “I think we played a good game, yung simple instructions sa last minute ng game, hindi namin nafollow ng maayos so yun yung game-changer,” he said.
Emphatic first half
With the preseason championship at stake, both the Green Archers and the Red Lions produced a strong start early on. Melecio opened the scoring for DLSU, driving hard through the SBC defense and scoring on a layup. Moments later, a baseline jumper from Santi Santillan gave La Salle an 8-5 lead. However, the Red Lions would quickly come back with baskets from Bolick and Mocon.
During the 4:38 mark, Ricci Rivero was called for a technical foul after showing resentment to a call. He received his third foul and played limited minutes in the first half. The opening quarter ended with a close margin of 19-16, with La Salle leading by three points.
The succeeding quarter started out slowly by both teams, as the first basket was made by Bolick shaking off his defender off the dribble to cut the lead to one point. However, after four minutes of play, both teams were tied at 20-all. DLSU started to test SBC with its full-court defense throughout the quarter. However, the Red Lions found their rhythm offensively with AC Soberano, Jose Presbitero, and Bolick each making a three-pointer.
La Salle stayed close through the efforts of Mbala, who had 11 points and two blocks during the first half. The first half concluded with La Salle leading by a single point, 36-35, coming off a put-back from Justine Baltazar.
Chaotic second half
In the second half, R. Rivero opened the quarter in favor of the Green Archers, scoring off a three-pointer. Mbala sparked a 6-0 run for La Salle, which Santillan capped off with a fastbreak layup. The duo of Mocon and Arnaud Noah of the Red Lions made back-to-back baskets from a layup and put-back, respectively, however. With 1:29 remaining in the third period, Melecio converted free throws while Caracut scored off a runner, ending the third quarter in favor of La Salle, 55-51.
It was still an open game during the early moments of the fourth quarter as Doliguez kept the Green Archers from taking the lead, scoring the first four points for the Red Lions. With San Beda facing a 59-57 deficit afterwards, Carino made a layup to tie the game, as Doliguez followed up with a three-pointer to give the team from Mendiola the lead.
Santillan dunked the ball on the fastbreak at the 1:40 mark of the fourth period to tie the game at 69-all and it proved to be the spark La Salle needed as Melecio followed up with a three-pointer. Consecutively, Soberano responded with a three-pointer of his own to tie the scores at 72. With eight seconds remaining in the final frame, Bolick converted a three-pointer which salvaged the win for SBC, successively ending La Salle’s bid for back-to-back preseason titles as Mbala failed to score off a DLSU inbound play.
When asked about the lack of players in the team’s rotation, having Kib Montalbo and Prince Rivero sidelined, coach Ayo explained, “No excuse, we don’t rely on players. We rely on our system, kung sino man yung papasok, magdedeliver.”
Prior to the game, members of the Mythical Five were officially awarded. Among the five distinguished players were Green Archers Mbala and R. Rivero. Mocon, Bolick, and Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirate CJ Perez comprised the other members of the tournament’s first team. Mbala was also officially acknowledged as the Best Defensive Player and Most Valuable Player of the league.
SBC 75– Bolick 24, Mocon 13, Doliquez 8, Potts 7, Presbitero 7, Carino 6, Soberano 6, Noah 2, Adamos 2, Tongco 0, Eugene 0, Bahio 0, Abuda 0
DLSU 72– Mbala 25, Melecio 14, Santillan 12, R. Rivero 11, Caracut 5, Baltazar 2, Tratter 2, Tero 1, Go 0, Gonzales 0
Quarter scores: 19-16, 36-35, 55-51, 72-75