Powerhouse La Salle proved too much to handle for host University if Santo Tomas on wednesday night, hammering out a dominant 100-62 victory to regain the solo leadership in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tourney at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Up by just nine at the break, the Green Archers came out of their dugout with their usual menacing form as they dominated the Growling Tigers on both ends in the final canto, leading to an insurmountable 73-49 advantage with 10 minutes to play.
It was the third straight victory for La Salle, keeping its hold of the top spot over fellow undefeated National U (2-0).
UST, coming off a slim 88-87 win over University of the East last Sunday, suffered its second loss in three starts.
Prized import Ben Mbala produced yet another dominant performance of 18 points and 16 rebounds while three other teammates, including top local Jeron Teng, added at least 10 markers each but it was La Salle’s “Mayhem” defense that did the trick anew.
Relentless on the defensive end, the Green Archers forced the Growling Tigers to commit 40 turnovers, most of them coming during their decisive push in the third where they took full command.
So suffocating was La Salle’s defense that it was able to score 34 points off UST’s errors, most of them off easy buckets.
“This is what happens when we play as a team,” said La Salle’s first-year coach Aldin Ayo, visibly pleased with his wards’ latest performance. “Ever since naman, that’s what we’re working on—develop chemistry and executing the game plan.”
Renzo Subido tallied a team-high 18 points but could not get enough support from the Tigers, notably in the third when they could only come up with 14 markers collectively.
“‘Yun ang game changer. How we started the third canto,” added Ayo, describing their telling run after the turn.
La Salle also dealt UST its worst loss in 10 years since another Tigers squad absorbed a 78-114 beating against Ateneo in 2006. – By Jerome Lagunzad
DLSU (100) – Mbala 18, Teng 13, Torres 11, Tratter 10, Melecio 8, Montalbo 8, Sargent 7, Go 7, Rivero R 5, Caracut 5, Rivero P 3, Paraiso 3, Baltazar 2, Dyke 0.
UST (62) – Subido 18, Sheriff 11, Faundo 5, Vigil 5, Basibas 5, Afoakwah 4, Lao 4, Macasaet 3, Bonleon 3, Caunan 2, Huang 2, De Guzman 0, Lee 0, Arana 0.
Quarterscores: 23-19, 44-35, 73-49, 100-62.