Complacency won’t have any room on powerhouse La Salle as it guns for a third straight victory in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tourney against host University of Santo Tomas on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Currently sharing the top spot with National U with identical 2-0 marks, the Green Archers have the chance to gain the solo leadership in their 4 p.m. showdown with the Growling Tigers.
La Salle’s first-year coach Aldin Ayo, however, isn’t one to look that far ahead, aware how dangerous UST is.
“We don’t take for granted any team in the UAAP. ‘Yung UST, hindi naglaro sa summer leagues, pero kung maglaro eh buong-buo,” he said of the Growling Tigers who are coming off a morale-boosting 88-87 victory over University of the East last Saturday.
“All the teams here are competitive. Hindi puwedeng maging complacent,” he added.
While they will come in as underdogs, UST coach Rodil “Boy” Sablan is confident about the Tigers’ chances.
“Ready lang ang UST. Sa lahat naman ng teams, ready kami. Itong team na ‘to, hanggang dulo lalaban,” he promised.
While most of the attention will be given to La Salle’s prized import Ben Mbala, UST’s third-year guard Renzo Subido should gain an ample share of the limelight following his career-best 26-point explosion against the Red Warriors.
“We know they’re a very strong team. But like coach said, we’re up to the challenge,” said Subido, a former La Salle-Zobel star. “‘Yun ang masaya sa UAAP basketball, its very challenging and it’s fun to play with challenge.”
Aside from the 6-foot-7 Mbala, who’s averaging monstrous numbers of 21.5 points, 18.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game, the Tigers’ defense will be put into a litmus test by the likes of top Green Archers local Jeron Teng, Abu Tratter, Kib Montalbo, Jollo Go and Thomas Torres. – By Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports