Archers destroy Tigers, near twice-to-beat bonus
La Salle didn’t need reigning Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala to play heavy minutes and help the Green Archers destroy University of Santo Tomas.
The Green Archers had more than enough firepower in cruising to a 94-59 triumph over the struggling Tigers on Sunday for their 10th win in 12 games in UAAP Season 80 at Mall of Asia Arena.
Mbala scored 17 points in just 19 minutes to lead seven others who finished with at least six points as the Archers fashioned out their most lopsided victory of the season to close in on a twice-to-beat Final Four bonus.
“I’m happy I was able to rest,” said the Cameroonian big man. “Mayhem (the defense that La Salle plays) is not something that’s easy to do, especially when you stay in there for more than 20 minutes. But if it’s less than 20 minutes and the team is still doing good, at least it means somehow that the second group is also doing well so its good for us.”
Later, Adamson pounced on a shorthanded National U squad for a 90-77 victory that assured the Falcons of a playoff for a Final Four spot after improving to 8-4.
Jonathan Espeleta and Jerrick Ahanmisi led an early barrage by the Falcons to finish with 16 points each as Adamson put NU’s postseason hopes in peril after the Bulldogs fell to 4-7.
While NU is in danger of missing out on the Final Four, the Tigers are in a far more miserable state as they have two games left to avert a winless season. The Tigers’ 12th straight loss saw them trail by 42 points at one point.
“We’re doing our best, but the results have not gone our way,” UST guard Marvin Lee, who had 25 points, said in Filipino. “We just have to learn and improve and prepare for next season. It’s frustrating, especially with our record right now.”
The Archers pulled away in the second period after Ricci Rivero caught fire with 11 of his 16 points.
Santo Tomas scored just eight points in that stretch.
The Bulldogs sorely missed gunner Matt Salem, who was out due to an illness, while big man Issa Gaye played just 15 minutes due to an injury.
“It worked to our advantage that Salem is sick and Gaye had something wrong with his foot,” said Adamson coach Franz Pumaren.