Join Blue Ea­gles at top spot

Manila Times - - SPORT - BY JOEL L. ORELLANA Ricci Rivero of La Salle at­tempts to pen­e­trate the de­fense of Issa Gaye of NU dur­ing the Uni­ver­sity Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion of the Philip­pines men’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment on Satur­day at the Smart Araneta Coli­seum.

IN a high- scor­ing con­test, De La Salle Uni­ver­sity needed key de­fen­sive stops in the end game to out­last Na­tional Uni­ver­sity, 115109, and get a share of the lead in Sea­son 80 Uni­ver­sity Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion of the Philip­pines (UAAP) men’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment on Satur­day at the Smart Araneta Coli­seum.

The Green Archers again la­bored their way to vic­tory with­out reign­ing Most Valu­able Player ( MVP) Ben Mbala and just like in their 9590 vic­tory over Far East­ern Uni­ver­sity, the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons showed poise down the stretch to nail their sec­ond straight win and join chief ri­val Ate­neo de Manila Uni­ver­sity at the top spot.

Ricci Rivero led La Salle’s bal­anced at­tack with 21 points and had a key as­sist to el­der brother Prince that prac­ti­cally sealed the hard-earned vic­tory for the Taft-based squad.

“It was a good game. We showed lots of tenac­ity. We were re­silient and the com­po­sure was there,” said Green Archers head coach Aldin Ayo, who also drew 20 points and eight as­sists from sopho­more guard Aljun Mele­cio.

“We were able to ex­e­cute our plays es­pe­cially in the end game,” Ayo added.

Jollo Go chipped in a ca­reer-high 19 mark­ers, eight came in the third pe­riod where La Salle ral­lied from a 69-80 deficit and car­ried a 91-88 lead en­ter­ing the fourth pe­riod.

It was a see­saw bat­tle in the fi­nal canto with the Bull­dogs even ahead by one, 107-106, on Issa Gaye’s split.

The Rivero broth­ers ac­counted for La Salle’s next three points for a 110107 lead and NU fum­bled on its next two pos­ses­sions, which the Green Archers failed to cap­i­tal­ize.

Mon­talbo made a key de­fen­sive stop, tap­ping the ball from Jay­jay Ale­jan­dro in what could be a sure bas­ket for the Bull­dogs. He com­pleted a steal in the next play that led to Ricci Rivero’s feed to Prince for a 112-107 ad­van­tage with 25.3 ticks left in the game.

Gaye had a quick bas­ket for the Bull­dogs, 109- 112, and af­ter a split by Mele­cio, Matt Salem’s triple rimmed out that spelled the doom for NU, which dropped to 1- 1 in the stand­ings.

“We have the same sys­tem. We keep on run­ning,” said Ayo when asked of the of­fen­sive-minded con­test against Jamike Jarin, whom he had in­ter­est­ing bat­tles in the Na­tional Col­le­giate Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion.

“It’s like watch­ing a lawn ten­nis game. We take pride with our con­di­tion­ing pro­gram,” he added.

Rookie Jordan Bartlett had an im­pres­sive show­ing for the Bull­dogs with 23 points while Ale­jan­dro and Gaye added 18 and 16 mark­ers, re­spec­tively.

La Salle man­aged to stay un­beaten de­spite miss­ing the ser­vices of Mbala, who rep­re­sented Cameroon in the FIBA Africa tour­na­ment. The six- foot- seven Mbala is ex­pected to play on Wed­nes­day against Adam­son, ac­cord­ing to Ayo.

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