La Salle blows lead, holds off Adamson in Mbala’s return
Defending champion La Salle blew a big lead before holding off Adamson, 85-73, to remain undefeated in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament Wednesday night at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Green Archers welcomed back Ben Mbala, who announced his return in style with a 32 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.
Mbala picked up where he left off last season where he won the MVP award, and La Salle needed every bit of its Cameroonian import’s production down the stretch with Adamson mounting a spirited rally in the fourth quarter.
“That was a bad win. we started strong but down the stretch, we committed lots of mistakes,” DLSU head coach Aldin Ayo told reporters.
“The problem was really our execution. The players thought the game was already over after the first half that’s why in the second half, in the fourth quarter our youth, our immaturity showed,” Ayo said.
But Mbala, fresh off an impressive play with Cameroon in the Fiba Afrobasket, kept the Archers steady amid the Falcons’ run in the final frame. He scored seven timely points in the fourth quarter, including a contested drive that pushed his team’s lead back to 11, 79-68, with 4:36 remaining.
“As expected, even you guys expected to see a game like this from Ben after his stint in the league he just played in,” Ayo said of his prized big man, who averaged 21.8 points and 9.3 rebounds for Cameroon in this year’s Afrobasket.
Adamson trailed by as much as 24 points before pulling within seven points several times in the second half, the last instance was when Jerie Pingoy set up Papi Sarr for a gimme that made it, 75-68, with still 5:43 left.
Sarr, who is still trying to regain his top form after suffering from a groin injury just before the season started, came away with 12 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Falcons, who dropped to 1-2.
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