Sat 9 December 2023

La Salle brings out the Animal

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Levels UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball finals, 1-1

Like a caged animal set free, back-to-back MVP Ben Mbala who contributed 20 points promised to play relentlessly in Game Two.

Not only did he fulfil his promise, everyone from his team played their wildest game for 22 minutes.

Recovering from one of the worst starts in UAAP Finals history, defending men’s basketball champions De La Salle University tied the UAAP Season 80 Finals, 1-1, with a 92-83 win over arch rivals Ateneo de Manila University Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Down by 21 in the first half and buried by Ateneo’s pristine three-point shooting, the Archers rose from the grave with a scintillating 37-8 run that began with an animalistic rim-racker by Mbala in the two-minute mark of the second quarter and ending the half 51-42 in favor of Ateneo.

Ricci Rivero, the heir to former King Archer Jeron Teng, spearheaded La Salle’s attack in the third quarter despite playing with four fouls with daring dribble drives.

Kib Montalbo anchored the Archers’ backcourt defense with a string of steals, which helped La Salle in allowing only seven points by Ateneo in the third quarter.

Court general Andrei Caracut likewise played big, scoring on timely baskets and orchestrating the Archers’ offense with efficient passing and ball protection.

Meanwhile, Game One’s top scorer Aljun Melecio sustained his scoring streak and fishing two timely fouls off his three-point attempts. He was 7-for-7 from the free throw line.

High-scoring guards Anton Asistio, who sank four triples in the first half, and Matt Nieto were rendered useless in the second half, succumbing to La Salle’s mayhem defense.

Sixth man Aaron Black was the only relevant Ateneo player at the endgame, scoring eleven of his 14 points in the second half.

The De La Salle definitely proved that they can still defend their crown and win that back to back championship title.

UAAP finals game 3 between archrivals DLSU and ADMU will be on Sunday, December 3, 4:00 PM at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Box Score:

DLSU 92 – Mbala 20, Ri. Rivero 18, Caracut 13, Melecio 12, Montalbo 9, Santillan 8, P. Rivero 8, Tratter 4, Tero 0, Go 0, Baltazar 0.

Ateneo 83 – Ravena 20, Black 15, Asistio 13, Go 11, Ma. Nieto 10, Ikeh 6, Mendoza 5, Tolentino 2, Tio 1, Verano 0, Mi. Nieto 0, Mamuyac 0, Porter 0.

Quarterscores: 15-32, 42-51, 68-59, 92-83.

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