The DLSU Green Archers notched their eleventh win of the season as they overpowered the NU Bulldogs, 101-76, earlier today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The win gives the defending champions an 11-2 record, which keeps their faint hopes alive of capturing the top seed in the standings as they are two games behind archrivals ADMU Blue Eagles. La Salle, however, clinched a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals with the win.
Ben Mbala led all players in scoring as he made eight out of 13 shots to finish with 30 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Ricci Rivero continued his stellar play this campaign as he filled up the stat sheet with 16 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal. With Matt Salem missing his second straight game, Jayjay Alejandro and Enzo Joson picked up the scoring for NU as they each made 20 points in the losing effort.
Frenetic first half
NU started the quarter strong with Joson spearheading the offensive attack early on. The former Blue Eaglet quickly made a lay-up 15 seconds into the game and knocked down a three-pointer to push the lead of the Bulldogs to five points, 10-5, at the 5:54 mark. R. Rivero and Andrei Caracut quickly tied the game at 10-all as both players made a three-pointer and a lay-up, respectively. After the deadlock, Alejandro scored the Bulldogs’ next eight points as he kept his team in the game. Brent Paraiso and Justine Baltazar each made a field goal in the last 32 seconds of the quarter to give La Salle a six point lead heading into the second quarter.
Jordan Bartlett immediately trimmed the Green Archers’ lead to four points, 26-22, at the start of the second quarter but La Salle unleashed a 10-0 run to erect a 14 point lead at the 5:34 mark. Alejandro made a three-pointer to stop the Green Archers’ run but R. Rivero converted a three-point play to push the lead back to 14 points, 39-25. Mbala made two free throws to give the Green-and-White their biggest lead of the half, 41-25, but the deficit did not rattle NU as they continued to fight back with Joson and Tzaddy Rangel scoring four points each to end the quarter strong, 47-35.
Dominant second half
The second half opened with a jumper from Issa Gaye followed by a slam to ignite NU. However, the Lasallians overpowered NU through the collective efforts of the team on both ends of the floor to keep them at bay throughout the second half. Foul trouble added to NU’s demise as the Bulldogs struggled in conducting their offense. The Bulldogs made only 29 of their 73 attempts while DLSU converted 36 out of 83, shooting 43 percent from the field. Meanwhile, Mbala held command inside the paint as he was able to draw a handful of fouls which sparked a 16-4 scoring run late in the third period. Jollo Go capped off the run with a three-pointer of his own with two minutes left in the final quarter. The basket by Go gave La Salle a 21-point lead over the Bulldogs.
NU’s last ditch effort came from a 7-0 run from Joson, Gaye, and a transition three-pointer from Ronnel Lastimosa. However, the Green-and-White managed to top the offensive performance of NU and continued to extend their lead further. La Salle finished the game with a lead as much as 25 points.
Mbala continued to be a threat in the game despite missing six free throws. The Green Archers will have to maintain playing at this rate in preparation for their final game in the eliminations against their archrivals. “Well, sabi ni coach, it all starts in practice. What we do in practice, most probably we’ll apply it sa game so yeah, I think we had a good week, and hopefully, ma-carry over namin next week for Ateneo’s game,” claims Kib Montalbo.
La Salle will face the ADMU Blue Eagles with the hopes of negating a step-ladder Final Four on November 12, 4pm, at the same venue.
DLSU 101 – Mbala 30, R. Rivero 16, Santillian 9, Montalbo 8, Go 8, Caracut 7, Melecio 5, Tratter 5, Paraiso 5, Baltazar 4, P. Rivero 2, Tero 2, Gonzales 0, Capacio 0
NU 76 – Alejandro 20, Joson 20, Gaye 12, Lastimosa 5, Diputado 4, Rangel 4, Aquino 3, Mosqueda 2, Tibayan 2, Yu 2, Bartlett 2, Cauilan 0, Morido 0, Flores 0, Abatayo 0
Quarter scores: 26-20, 47-35, 73-57, 101-76