The DLSU Green Archers subdued the UE Red Warriors, 99-78, earlier today at the Mall of Asia Arena. The victory gave La Salle a 9-2 win-loss record and pushed its winning streak to four games after edging the AdU Soaring Falcons last Saturday, October 21, late in the final frame. With this win, the Green Archers clinched a spot in the playoffs. However, La Salle still has to continue winning if it wants to guarantee itself a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals.
Ben Mbala led La Salle with 25 points and 14 rebounds, while Santi Santillan added 14 points in the victory. Justine Baltazar and Ricci Rivero also scored 13 points each in the team’s ninth win. On the other hand, Alvin Pasaol and Mark Olayon scored 25 and 18 points, respectively, to lead the Red Warriors.
Dominant first half
The Green Archers started on a 10-2 run in the first three minutes of the first quarter, leaving the Red Warriors trailing behind. Mbala was able to score eight points in the first quarter while the Rivero brothers combined to contribute an additional eight points to the team. After trading multiple baskets with one another, Pasaol was able to garner three straight baskets later on in the quarter cutting La Salle’s lead to 18-16 at the 1:55 mark. The Green-and-White was able to score a few more baskets, with Justine Baltazar shooting a two-point buzzer beater, closing the first quarter with a score of 28-18.
The defending champions were able to keep their composure by shooting basket after basket, increasing their lead to 40-24 in the first half of the second quarter. UE was able to gain their momentum back by shooting another three straight baskets. Aljun Melecio answered back with a three-point shot while UE kept shooting inside, as they tried to keep up with the Archers. The last shot of the quarter was made by Mbala, adding two more points to the team’s tally. Philip Manalang tried to beat the buzzer but was not able to release it on time, closing the first half of the game with a score of 53-34, in favor of La Salle.
With great defense, the Green Archers were able to go up by 19 points, their biggest lead in the first half of the game, as well as force 15 turnovers for UE compared to DLSU, which only had eight. It was an even effort for the Lasallians as the starters scored 27 points, while the bench contributed 26 points to the team.
The succeeding half opened with a slam by Mbala to start off the third quarter. Both teams went head-to-head and traded baskets all throughout the third frame. Mbala and Santillan continued to show dominance inside the paint as both racked up points to maintain the team’s lead over UE, highlighted by a fast break dunk by Santillan at the 4:30 mark of the third quarter.
Meanwhile, Baltazar had a remarkable performance in the winning effort. The bigman shot perfect from the field with 13 points and added three blocks to go along with a three-point basket.
UE’s Jason Varilla, on the other hand, drained back-to-back threes with only a minute remaining in the quarter. However, rookie Joshua Gonzales answered back with a three-pointer of his own just seconds before the buzzer sounded.
The final quarter featured the resiliency of the Red Warriors as they managed to decrease the DLSU lead to 14 twice in the period. Turnovers seemed to be a significant aspect to UE’s surprising comeback attempt. The Green-and-White had a total of 26 turnovers and the Red Warriors took advantage as they converted 23 points from La Salle’s errors.
An unsportsmanlike foul was called on Baltazar early on against Clark Derige which sparked a 10-2 run by UE. A three-pointer by Pasaol with only four minutes remaining on the clock once again gave DLSU only a 14-point margin over the Red Warriors. Rivero responded with a fast break dunk on the other end off a slick pass by Andrei Caracut. The Lasallians seemed to have answers for whenever the Red Warriors initiated a scoring run. La Salle led by as much as 27 points versus UE and secured their ninth win in the season.
DLSU 99 – Mbala 25, Santillan 14, R. Rivero 13, Baltazar 13, Melecio 7, Tratter 6, Montalbo 5, P. Rivero 4, Caracut 3, Go 3, Gonzales 3, Paraiso 2, Tero 1
UE 78 – Pasaol 23, Olayon 18, Derige 9, Varilla 8, Maloles 6, Acuno 6, Cullar 4, Bartolome 2, Cruz 2
28-18, 53-34, 77-55, 99-78