Late run fuels La Salle past FEU
Ben Mbala, Aljun Melecio, and Jeron Teng conspired for La Salle’s late uprising en route to a come-from-behind 73-67 victory over Far Eastern University in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The hard-fought victory for the Green Archers secured their fate as the top seed, as they carry a 13-1 record going to the Final Four.
Trailing 65-60, La Salle went on a 13-3 tear ignited by the Cameroonian giant’s rim-rattler in the last five minutes.
Melecio then drained a huge three to tie the game at 67 with 1:44 to go before Teng’s drive finally gave La Salle the lead.
Joe Trinidad lost the rock in the ensuing possession as Mbala and Teng sealed the win in the clutch.
“Big game after a big loss. We’re grateful for this game because mahirap yung talo na yun (sa Ateneo),” said coach Aldin Ayo. “We were able to execute our pace on both ends of the floor, both offense and defense. It’s all about execution naman and the good thing is that we were able to convert.”
Teng paced La Salle with 17 points on a 6-of-16 shooting that went with two assists, while Mbala registered a double-double of 16 markers and 16 rebounds.
Kib Montalbo added 13 points, four boards, and four assists, while rookie Melecio provided the spark in the second half as he uncorked all 12 of his markers in the last two periods.
FEU stumbled to its third straight defeat and now sits at third with an 8-5 slate.
The Tamaraws are now in danger of falling out of the top two, with Ateneo (9-4) and Adamson (7-5) still in contention for the last twice-to-beat incentive.
Axel Iñigo saw his breakout game go down the drain with 18 points and eight rebounds in the FEU loss.
Trinidad also had 16 markers on a 5-of-7 shooting from threes.
LA SALLE 73 – Teng 17, Mbala 16, Montalbo 13, Melecio 12, Tratter 5, Caracut 4, P. Rivero 3, Torres 3, Paraiso 0, Sargent 0, Baltazar 0.
FEU 67 – Inigo 18, Trinidad 16, Orizu 7, Comboy 7, Arong 7, Escoto 6, Jose 4, Dennison 2, Tuffin 0, Holmqvist 0, Ebona 0, Nunag 0.
Quarters: 13-13, 32-35, 51-53, 73-67.
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