Archers tame Bull­dogs

Tempo - - Front Page - By JEROME LA­GUN­ZAD

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 still not around. Af­ter all, the Green Archers are still get­ting the job done.

De­fend­ing champion La Salle out­gunned Na­tional Univer­sity, 115109, yes­ter­day to seize a share of the top spot in the UAAP Sea­son 80 bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment at the Smart-Araneta Coli­seum.

Wing­man Ricci Rivero fired 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 chipped in of­fen­sively as the Green Archers over­came an 11-point, third-quar­ter deficit to score the come-from-be­hind win.

It was the se­cond straight vic­tory by La Salle against a per­ceived ti­tle con­tender.

“I al­ways tell the play­ers not to take away any­thing from bas­ket­ball,” said Ayo, re­fus­ing to give the Green Archers any kind of ex­cuse to put their guards down in the ab­sence of the six-foot-seven Mbala who also sat out La Salle’s 95-90 win over Far East­ern Univer­sity last week.

“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.”

The 5-foot-7 Mele­cio had 20 points and eight as­sist while the 6-foot-6 San­til­lian, a blue chip re­cruit from Univer­sity of Visayas,

added 16 points and 16 re­bounds, aside from tak­ing on 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, re­sult­ing to its first loss in two starts. The scores:

La Salle 115 – Rivero R 21, Mele­cio 20, Go 19, San­til­lan 13, Trat­ter 11, Rivero P 10, Cara­cut 9, Mon­talbo 8, Bal­tazar 4.

NU 109 – 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, 9188, 115-109.

(Rio Leonelle Delu­vio)

LA SALLE’s Justin Bal­tazar and Na­tional Uni­ver­sity’s J-Jay Ale­jan­dro bat­tle for the re­bound dur­ing UAAP ac­tion at the Smart-Araneta Coli­seum.

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