La Salle survives late UP fightback, inches closer to UAAP Final 4 berth

Ace wingman Jeron Teng made a triumphant return on Saturday, powering La Salle to a 78-72 victory over hard-fighting University of the Philippines to gain at least a playoff for a Final Four berth in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

After sitting out the past two matches to recover from a Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy for bone spurs on his left heel, the 6-foot-2 Teng hardly missed a beat, pumping in a game-high of 21 points for the Green Archers.

The veteran DLSU gunner had 14 points in the first half, while providing the steady presence for the Green Archers, who streaked to their ninth straight victory.

Import Ben Mbala struggled early on, but still finished with his ninth straight double-double performance of the season with 17 points and 20 rebounds.

La Salle also ended UP’s two-game winning streak as the Fighting Maroons dropped to 3-7.

Paul Desiderio finished with 16 points while fellow veteran Jett Manuel added 13 markers for UP. Rookie Javi Gomez De Liano pumped in all 11 of his points in the second half to help the Fighting Maroons charge back from an early 16-point deficit and gave the Green Archers all they could handle down the stretch.

Three straight triples, two of them off Desiderio, followed by an incomplete three-point play by center Andrew Harris allowed UP to claw its way back from several double-digit deficits while threatening within 65-71.

However, La Salle refused to be denied as veteran guard Thomas Torres canned a pair of freebies, while Teng delivered the dagger with a leaning jumper from the 15-foot line, enabling them to seize control anew with under a minute to play.  Jerome Lagunzad

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The scores:

DLSU 78 – Teng 21, Mbala 17, Torres 13, Melecio 9, Rivero R 9, Rivero P 4, Montalbo 3, Caracut 2, Tratter 0, Perkins 0, Baltazar 0, Go 0

UP 72 – Desiderio 16, Manuel 13, Gomez de Liano 11, Lim 8, Moralde 7, Harris 4, Prado 4, Lao 4, Espanola 3, Dario 2, Webb 0, Romero 0, Vito 0, Jaboneta 0

Quarterscores: 25-14, 41-34, 55-48, 78-72.