DLSU sur­vives NU; Adam­son trips UST

Manila Bulletin - - Sports News - By JEROME LAGUNZAD First Game LA SALLE 115 – NU 109 – Sec­ond Game ADAM­SON 88 – UST 81 –

Games To­day (Smart-Araneta Coli­seum) 2 p.m. — UP vs UE 4 p.m. — Ate­neo vs FEU

La Salle coach Aldin Ayo couldn’t care less if reign­ing league MVP Ben Mbala is not in their fold yet. Af­ter all, the Green Archers, more po­tent and tal­ented than ever, are still get­ting the job done.

In a show of force, de­fend­ing cham­pion La Salle out­gunned Na­tional Univer­sity and hacked out a 115-109 vic­tory to seize a share of the top spot in the UAAP Sea­son 80 bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment at the Smart-Araneta Coli­seum.

Wing­man Ricci Rivero fi­nally played true to form with a team-high of 21 points, nine of them com­ing in the fi­nal canto, while play­maker Aljun Mele­cio, backup Jollo Go and rookie big man Leonard San­til­lan backed them up as the Green Archers over­came an 11-point, third-quar­ter deficit and a tough Bull­dogs side.

It was the sec­ond straight vic­tory by La Salle against a per­ceived ti­tle con­tender and the Green Archers did it anew with­out the pres­ence of the 6-foot-7 Mbala, who has yet to re­turn to the coun­try af­ter suit­ing up for his home coun­try Cameroon in the 2017 AfroBas­ket tour­na­ment.

“I al­ways tell the play­ers not to take away any­thing from bas­ket­ball,” said Ayo.

“Hindi pwe­deng may darat­ing at bababa kami. When Ben ar­rives, aangat kami kasama siya and talk­ing about ad­just­ments, wala na­man masyado be­cause hindi kami masyado nag-ad­just dun sa pagkawala niya. Gusto namin pag­ba­lik niya go agad.”

But Ayo could still af­ford not to rush Mbala into the thick of things as long as the Green Archers will con­tinue to per­form.

The 5-foot-7 Mele­cio sus­tained his bril­liance for La Salle with 20 points and eight as­sist while the 6-foot-6 San­til­lian, a blue chip re­cruit from Univer­sity of Visayas, did his best im­per­son­ation of Mbala with 16 points and 16 re­bounds, do­ing enough to neu­tral­ize NU’s Sene­galese im­port Issa Gaye.

Rookie Jor­dan Bartlett paced all scor­ers with 23 points while four other team­mates scored in dou­ble fig­ures but the Bull­dogs prac­ti­cally ran out of steam af­ter lead­ing by as many as 11 points at 80-69 in the third canto.

In the other match, Adam­son pounded an er­ror-prone UST crew, 88-81, to give Cameroon im­port Papi Sarr a tri­umphant re­turn from a groin in­jury and set its ti­tle bid in mo­tion.

Sec­ond-year guard Rob Manalang tal­lied 19 points while the 6-foot-6 Sarr, still far from his top form, had 10 points and four re­bounds as the Soar­ing Fal­cons bounced back from a 20-point loss dealt by the Blue Ea­gles last week. Rivero R 21, Mele­cio 20, Go 19, San­til­lan 13, Trat­ter 11, Rivero P 10, Cara­cut 9, Mon­talbo 8, Bal­tazar 4. Bartlett 23, Ale­jan­dro 18, Gaye 16, Salem 12, Aquino 10, Morido 5, Diputado 5, Yu 4, Las­ti­mosa 4, Tibayan 4, Abatayo 4, Mosqueda 2, Ran­gel 2, Cauilan 0, Jo­son 0, Flores 0. Quar­ters: 31-29, 65-61, 91-88, 115-109.

Manalang 19, Lo­jera 16, Man­ganti 11, Sarr 10, Pin­goy 9, Ahan­misi 8, Espeleta 5, Ca­ma­cho 4, Hill 3, Bernardo 2, Ochea 1, Frias 0, Mus­tre 0, Zal­divar 0.

Faundo 21, Lee 14, Sta. Ana 14. Akomo 10, Arana 9, Ba­si­bas 7, De Guz­man 2, Kwawukumey 2, Loren­zana 2, Gar­cia 0, So­ri­ano 0, Cau­nan 0, Es­calam­bre 0, Ma­casaet 0, Huang 0.

Quar­ters: 24-16, 45-39, 70-58, 88-81.

Na­tional Univer­sity's J-jay Ale­jan­dro (right) tries to score against La Salle's Ricci Rivero dur­ing UAAP ac­tion yes­ter­day at the Smart Araneta Coli­seum. The Archers won, 115109. (Rio Leonelle Delu­vio)

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