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Matt Nieto FTW! Ateneo survives La Salle, 76-75 to sweep the first round.

Matt Nieto for the win! Ateneo survives La Salle, 76-75 to sweep the first round.

Robbed of a game-winning moment during Game 1 of last year’s Finals, Matt Nieto finally made sure his name would be immortalized in Ateneo folklore, as he made the game-winning free throws with 3.9 seconds to play as the Ateneo De Manila University Blue Eagles defeated the De La Salle University Green Archers, 76-75 to sweep the first round. With the loss, DLSU drops to 5-2, in a tie for second place with the Adamson Soaring Falcons.

Ateneo started the game strong as the Blue Eagles waxed hot from downtown early on. Anton Asistio made three triples in the first quarter alone as the opening period ended, 28-16 in favor of the blue and white. But La Salle fought back during the second quarter. Ben Mbala and Ricci Rivero led the way for the green and white during the second quarter. The first half ended, 43-36 in favor of the boys from Katipunan.

Ateneo tried to break the game wide-open during the third quarter, as they controlled the pace of the game to build double-digit leads during the third quarter. But La Salle fought back. Ben Mbala made a tip in dunk then Jollo Go buried a triple to end the third quarter, giving the Archers some momentum going into the fourth quarter. The third period ended, 63-62 in favor of Ateneo, setting up a classic fourth quarter between the two bitter rivals.

It was a nip and tuck affair during the final period. La Salle was holding on to a 75-74 lead during the dying seconds of the game. All DLSU needs to do is to execute a clean inbounds pass, then wait for the foul. But Ateneo made a crucial steal; that led to the Matt Nieto game winning free throws.

Matt Nieto led the way for the Blue Eagles with 16 points, including three triples. Anton Asistio waxed hot during the first quarter, and he finished with 14 points, making 4 triples in the process. After struggling during the last few games. Ricci Rivero finally broke out of his slump, as he scored 19 points for the green and white, thanks to a wide array of acrobatic lay ups and he even had one dunk. Ben Mbala finished with a season low 18 points, highlighted by 2 dunks that energized the La Salle crowd during their rally. Big Ben also grabbed 13 rebounds. Jollo Go chipped in 11 points, including three triples.

La Salle shot themselves in the foot, shooting a horrible 5/13 from the charity stripe. Ateneo waxed hot from downtown, making 9/28 triples compared to 6/23 of La Salle.

And with that, the first round is over. Ateneo is on the top of the field. But La Salle and Adamson are not that far behind. Expect teams such as FEU, NU and UP to push hard this second round as they try to make it to the Final Four. And upsets can happen, so don’t discount UE and UST making some surprises for the second round.

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MAJOR UPSET! UP stuns La Salle, 98-87.

MAJOR UPSET! UP stuns La Salle, 98-87.

In the biggest upset of the young season so far, UP showed everyone that they are for real, as the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons upsets the defending champions De La Salle University Green Archers, 98-87. Both teams are now tied at 3-1.

La Salle dominated the first quarter, thanks to an explosive performance by Ben Mbala. Mbala went 4/4 from downtown during the opening period, and he finished with 16 points, as the opening period ended with DLSU in full control, 27-18. But it was all UP afterwards.

Paul Desiderio exploded for 30 big points, which included 6 triples. But it was not a one-man show for the Maroons as he had ample help from his teammates. Jun Mazo dropped 17 points while the de Liano brothers scored 10 points each. Rob Ricafort finally made his much anticipated season debut. He only scored 2 points, but his presence energized his teammates to make that second quarter run, and UP never looked back after that.

Ben Mbala was in his usual dominant self, with 34 points and 12 rebounds. Andrei Caracut scored 15 points but shot only 4/11 from the field. Ricci Rivero scored 12 points but he had his struggles as well; he even missed a dunk during the third quarter when La Salle was trying to get back to the ball game. After a phenomenal first two games, Aljun Melecio has been cold lately, as he shot only 2/12 from the field for this game. After his break out game against NU last week, Jollo Go didn’t play much during this game, going scoreless in just under 4 minutes of play.

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Pre-Game: DLSU vs UP

Pre-game: De La Salle University Green Archers versus the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons

La Salle will try to continue its winning ways as it takes on the dangerous University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons. Last season, La Salle convincingly defeated UP in both of their encounters. La Salle, together with rivals Ateneo, is on the top of the standings with an immaculate 3-0 record. UP is off to a rare good start so far with a 2-1 record. However, their record is a bit misleading. They defeated the so far winless teams University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers (which they needed a dramatic game winner) and a come from behind win over the University of the East Red Warriors. Ateneo dominated UP for their lone loss so far.

Ben Mbala made a dominant return to the UAAP with a 32-point 10-rebund performance during his season debut against Adamson. So far in his entire UAAP career, he tallied a “double-double” in EVERY game of his UAAP career. During his absence during the first 2 games of the season due to his FIBA-Africa duties, several of the “locals” of La Salle stepped up. Aljun Melecio was red hot during the first 2 games. Jollo Go waxed hot from downtown against NU while Ricci Rivero stepped up during the second game as well. However, those locals struggled during the game against Adamson as their touches suffered considerably with the best post player of the league receiving most of the touches, and rightfully so. La Salle needs to find a balance of Mbala getting his touches but at the same time, getting the others involved as well. But the fact that after beating a Final Four contender like Adamson by 12 points, then all La Salle can think of is how to find a balance of the “import” dominating while the “locals” getting their touches as well, then that is a good problem to have.

La Salle are the heavy favorites to win this game, but nothing is cast in stone. Upsets can happen, especially if La Salle relies on Mbala too much. And UP wants to prove that they can compete with the best teams of the league. La Salle built huge leads against FEU and Adamson before staving off a furious rally down the stretch. A big coast-to-coast win against UP would be big for La Salle to show the league that they can dominate this season the same way the Archers dominated last year.

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La Salle survives a furious Adamson run to escape with an 85-73 win.

DLSU survives a furious Adamson run with an 85-73 win.

The De La Salle Green Archers dominated the first half, and did just enough during the second half, to pull off an 85-73 win against a stubborn Adamson Soaring Falcons squad.

Playing in his first UAAP game of the season after a successful FIBA-Africa campaign, Ben Mbala scored 10 quick points during the first quarter, highlighted by two triples, his new weapon that he picked up while training with his national team of Cameroon. The first quarter ended, 36-12 in favor of the green and white.

It was more of the same during the second period. Mbala poured in 11 points to finish the first half with 21 points as the first half ended with the team from Taft in full control, 55-33. It seems that the game would be a blowout, but the Falcons had other plans. Thanks to the legendary Pumaren pressing defense, the Falcons fought back and cut the lead to single-digits, as the third quarter ended, 70-61 to set up an exciting fourth quarter.

The Falcons had their chances during the final period, but it seems it was a case of too little, too late, as the huge lead of the Archers during the first half was enough cushion for La Salle to pick up the win. Ben Mbala was his usual dominant self, with 32 points and 10 rebounds. Leonard Santillian chipped in 10 points but the rest of the team struggled offensively, as they were the only two Archers who scored in double-digits. Robbie Manalang had 16 points, which included 3 triples for Adamson. Pappi Sarr scored 12 points and grabbed 16 big boards while Jerrick Ahanmissi struggled once again with a 3/11 shooting to finish with 10 markers. With the win, La Salle stayed undefeated with a 3-0 record while Adamson falls to 1-2.

Meanwhile, in the first game, NU pulled away during crunch time to beat UST, 94-84. During the middle parts of the fourth quarter, it seems that UST had a chance of pulling off an upset against an inconsistent NU squad. But the Bulldogs just had enough bite to avoid the upset. The National University Bulldogs avoided an upset by pulling away during the latter part of the fourth quarter with a 94-84 win over the winless University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers. With the win, NU improves to 2-1 while UST falls to the bottom with a 0-3 mark.

Issa Gaye paved the way for the Bulldogs with 17 points and 13 big rebounds, 9 of them on the offensive end. Dave Yu added 13 points while Jay Jay Alejandro made 4 triples to finish with 12 markers. Regie Basibas exploded for 23 points for the Growling Tigers while Jordan Sta Ana added 14 points for UST.

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Pre-Game: De La Salle University Green Archers versus Adamson Soaring Falcons

Pre-Game: De La Salle University Green Archers versus Adamson Soaring Falcons

It’s a rematch of last year’s Final Four matchup as the defending champions De La Salle University Green Archers takes on the dangerous Adamson Soaring Falcons. The Green Archers defeated the Soaring Falcons thrice last season. La Salle dominated the first round match up. Adamson was able to keep their second round match up close before La Salle pulled away. And during the Final Four, Adamson almost pulled off an upset, before Jeron Teng took over during crunch time to eliminate Adamson in just one game.

The Archers are still undefeated, with solid wins against Final Four contenders FEU and NU. What’s more impressive about those wins was that the Archers won without the reigning MVP Ben Mbala because of his national team duties. Mbala will be making his season debut this Wednesday and that is bad news for the entire UAAP. Adamson has been inconsistent so far this season. Without Papi Sarr, Ateneo dominated Adamson during the opening weekend. Adamson bounced back during their second game with a closer-than-expected win against UST.

La Salle has been averaging a whooping 105 points per game so far during this young season. It’s going to be interesting to see if Adamson would try to slow the pace down against the high-scoring Archers, or if their athletic players would try to run-and-gun and try to flat out out-score the Archers. La Salle had some problems against the press of NU last Saturday. With that said, La Salle needs to prepare for the dreaded Pumaren press of the Falcons.

Three-point shooting has been the name of the game for the Archers so far this season. Aljun Melecio has been waxing hot all season long. Ricci Rivero hit some threes during their last game and Jollo Go had a career game raining threes during the NU game. Mbala has improved his three-point shooting during the FIBA-Africa and he might just use his new weapon in the UAAP. With Mbala back, he will command double or even triple teams down low and that will open up the shooters of the Archers.

The Adamson coaching staff, AKA La Salle legends, has not defeated their Alma Matter since they took over the other blue and white school. Coach Franz Pumaren and his assistant coaches, King Archers Ren Ren Ritualo and Don Allado, would love to give La Salle their first loss of the season. Before the season, Adamson was considered as a Finals contender but now, some are saying a Final Four slot is not even a lock, so Adamson needs a big game against La Salle to prove to the entire UAAP community that they are still one of the favorites for this season.

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La Salle outlasts NU, 115-109 in a thrilling shootout to go up to 2-0!

La Salle outlasts NU, 115-109 in a thrilling shootout to go up to 2-0!

In one of the most exciting UAAP games in recent memory, the De La Salle University Green Archers defeated the National University Bulldogs, 115-109 in high-scoring, high-octane shootout that left the entire UAAP community in awe.

It was a see saw battle all throughout the game. La Salle led by as many as 10 points during the second quarter but NU quickly recovered. The it was the Bulldogs turn to grab a double-digit during the 3rd quarter, as they went up by as many as 11 points during the third quarter, but La Salle rallied back. During the dying seconds of the game and with La Salle clinging on to just a 3-point lead, Ricci Rivero drove hard to the basket and found his brother Prince down low, and the older Rivero made the eventual game-sealing basket.

After a poor opening weekend, Ricci stepped up and exploded with 21 big points, in a wide-array of fancy layups, three-point shots and clutch baskets. Opening game hero Aljun Melcio continued his hot shooting ways, dropping 20 points including 5 triples. Jollo Go exploded for 19 points in just 13 minutes, shooting a red-hot 5/8 from downtown. Rookie Leonard Santillian had a monster game of 13 points and 16 rebounds. Abu Tratter chipped in 11 points, and he did not miss a shot at all, going 4/4 from the field and 3/3 from the line. Prince Rivero scored 10 points, including the eventual game-sealing basket from an assist from his younger brother. The brothers then shared a hug after that basket, another feel good moment in a league full of dramatic moments.

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De La Salle Green Archers Season 80 preview

De La Salle Green Archers Season 80 preview

The reigning, defending, undisputed UAAP Champions De La Salle University Green Archers are aiming for a back-to-back this season, and just like last season, La Salle are once again the heavy favorites to win it all. DLSU flat out dominated Season 79 of the UAAP Men’s basketball, starting the season on fire with 12 straight wins, a lot of those wins in double-digits. Ateneo then defeated La Salle in their second round matchup to avoid the sweep. But La Salle quickly bounced back, defeating FEU in the final game of the elimination round to end the regular season with a 13-1 record, and the top seed in the Final Four. In the Final Four, La Salle defeated Adamson in a close game to set up a finals clash with rivals Ateneo. La Salle won game one of the finals thanks to a Jeron Teng game-winner. Jeron saved his best for last during Game 2, exploding for 28 points to give the Archers the championship. Jeron Teng was named Finals MVP and he also made it to the Mythical 5. Season MVP Ben Mbala dominated the league, as he recorded a” double-double” in EVERY game of last season. Overall, La Salle was a dominant 16-1 for Season 79.

La Salle was inconsistent during the FIL-OIL tournament. DLSU lost its opening game against JRU in an upset. La Salle also lost to San Beda and to rivals Ateneo during the elimination round. Fortunately for La Salle, Ateneo lost their last few games, enabling the Archers to make it to the playoffs. La Salle made it all the way to the finals against San Beda but unfortunately; former Green Archer Robert Bollick made the game-winning shot to bring the summer league title to Mendiola.

But La Salle bounced back the BLIA Cup in Taiwan. La Salle swept the tournament, beating a French Team in the finals. La Salle also defeated an American squad during the elimination round. Ben Mbala was named tournament MVP while Ricci Rivero shined as the top local for the green and white.

Subtractions:

Jeron Teng, Thomas Torres, Jason Perkins, Julian Sargent, Mark Dyke

After spending a year in the La Salle bench, Dyke decided to transfer to FEU. A lot of former DLSU benchwarmers found success when they transferred to different programs. Terrence Mustre is part of the rotation of a very strong Adamson Program. Matt Salem is one of the key players of NU. And Robert Bollick is now the Lion King of the very dominant San Beda program. We thank Dyke for his services and we wish him luck.

Jason Perkins was one of the star players of La Salle during our 2013 championship run. However, he never truly shined under the Mayhem system. He played well in the PBA D-League and given his skill set, he has the potential to be a good PBA player if given the proper opportunity. Julian Sargent was one of the better defenders of La Salle last season, but his minutes were inconsistent as well. Thomas Torres was the starting point guard of La Salle during the last few seasons. All three of these players contributed to our championship, but there are other players who can fill their void. However, there is one player whose void would certainly be felt.

Jeron Teng accomplished so much during his 5-year UAAP career. He led La Salle back to the Final Four during his Frosh year, winning the Rookie of the Year award along the way. During his sophomore year, he led us to the championship in a dramatic match up against his brother. The team had its ups and downs during his junior and senior years but he maintained his strong individual showing. And he ended his college career in perfect fashion, by beating Ateneo for the championship. He has 2 Finals MVP and 4 Mythical 5 awards during his illustrious career. Some say the Archers needs to fill his void by committee. Lets hope they step up, especially Ricci Rivero and Aljun Melecio.

Additions: Santi Santillan, Gabe Capacio, Ramil Tero, Josh Gonzales

Unlike the previous seasons, La Salle has no “blue-chip” recruit fresh out of high school for this season. Most of the rookies of the Archers for this season are mostly transferees, players who already played for our Team B and some has experience playing college ball in other leagues. Some of these guys are expected to be part of the rotation, thus, it is expected that they contribute immediately.

Gabe Capacio is the son of one of our current assistant coaches, Glenn Capacio. He is a former Ateneo Blue Eaglet. He took the opposite route of his older brother Gwynne, who starred for the De La Salle Zobel Junior Archers before playing for the Ateneo Blue Eagles for college. Josh Gonzales is a former Letran Squire who also played for the UE Red Warriors. Santi Santillian is a forward who played for CESAFI powerhouse; University of Visayas while combo guard Ramil Tero played for NAASCU powerhouse Saint Claire.

Holdovers:

Ben Mbala, Aljun Melecio, Joshua Caracut, Prince Rivero, Ricci Rivero, Abu Tratter, Brent Paraiso, Jollo Go, Justine Baltazar, Kib Montalbo

A lot of the key players of last year’s championship season are still with the Green Archers this season, and they are ready to defend the crown. Big guys such as Abu Tratter and Justine Baltazar will be called upon to defend the paint. Role players such as Jollo Go and Brent Paraiso provided quality minutes last season. Hopefully, they can contribute more this season. Season 78 Rookie of the Year Joshua Caracut is one of the best three-point shooters of the team and is expected to be an integral part of the rotation.

Season 79 Rookie of the Year Aljun Melecio is perhaps the best three-point shooter of the team, and for this season, he is expected to be one of the top local scorers for La Salle. Prince Rivero was in and out of the Mayhem rotation during last season and even in the pre-season tournaments. Prince is a talented player and he is ready to contribute whatever is needed, whenever his number is called. Many are expecting Ricci Rivero to be the top local of La Salle for this season. Ricci had a strong showing during the pre-season leagues. With Thomas Torres gone, Kib Montalbo is now expected to be the top point guard of La Salle. He is the initiator of the Mayhem system; his leadership and defense are very integral to the success of the team.Season 79 Ben Mbala is once again the heavy favorite to repeat as the Season MVP. Mbala flat put dominated Season 79, and with another impressive showing during the pre-season, he is once again expected to dominate this year.

Prediction:

Final Four: La Salle, Adamson, Ateneo, FEU

Finals: La Salle over Adamson

I predict around a 12-2 record for La Salle this season. Because of his National team duties with Cameroon, Mbala will miss this first game of the season vs FEU, and he might miss the second game of the season, against NU. A split while Big Ben is in the FIBA Africa tournament is a huge possibility. There are possible losses to fellow contenders down the road, such as Adamson and Ateneo. La Salle needs to continue to sharpen the Mayhem system for this season.

The Green Archers are the heavy favorites to win it all this season. But remember, La Salle was also favored to go back-to-back in 2014, but we all know how that one turned out. The Archers needs to be focused on the task at hand. The initial goal should be having a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four, then take it from there.

ANIMO LA SALLE!

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