SAN JUAN City – De La Salle University barged into the championship game of the 2016 FilOil Flying V Premier Cup by repeating over archrival Ateneo de Manila University, 92-77, in the semifinals Friday afternoon (June 10) at the San Juan Arena. It was total domination for the Green Archers as they booked their third straight appearance in the finale of the annual preseason tournament.
Showing the depth of their bench, the reserves stepped up as DLSU played without top scorer Jeron Teng who was hobbled by an ankle injury from their quarterfinal win over Far Eastern University last Tuesday. “We really missed Jeron today but I told him to play as not to disrupt our rotation,” explained Coach Aldin Ayo.
Teng did start the game but was quickly replaced, prompting rookie Aljun Melecio to explode for 12 points in the first half as the Green Archers ran away, 48-40, capped by an inspiring triple at the buzzer by Thomas Torres. With momentum clearly on their side, there was no stopping the DLSU rampage.
Saddled with early foul trouble in the first half, big men Benoit Mbala and Abu Tratter began to make mincemeat of the Blue Eagle frontline and guards Torres and Andrei Caracut found the mark as the only left to be settled was the final tally. Not even the late forays of Aaron Black and Thirdy Ravena could make a dent on the Green Archers’ margin.
Torres had 11 of his team-high 17 points in the second half on top of three assists and two steals. Mbala had his usual double-double of 16 points and 17 rebounds while three other teammates knocked in 13 points or more.
“We have embraced the system of Coach and our sacrifices are paying off,” said Torres, who is on his final season for the green and white. “I think we are on the right track and I want to end my college stint with a bang in this year’s UAAP.”
Black paced the Blue Eagles with 24 points and nine rebounds. Ravena was the only other Ateneo player in twin digits with 10 points, eight made in the second half.
Waiting for the Green Archers are the Arellano University Chiefs, who earned the first seat in the one-game finale by outlasting National University, 94-85. Both Torres and Coach Ayo are expecting a good match up against the talented Arellano backcourt of Jiovani Jalalon and Kent Salado.
How They Scored:
DE LA SALLE (92) – Torres 17, Mbala 16, Melecio 15, Tratter 14, Caracut 13, Montalbo 7 Go 6, P. Rivero 2, Gob 2, Teng 0.
ATENEO DE MANILA (77) – Black 24, Ravena 10, A. Wong 8, Tolentino 7, Porter 7, Ikeh 6, Go 4, Asistio 3, Allmond 2, Ma Nieto 2, Mendoza 2, Babilonia 2, Banzon 0.
Period Scores: 27-14, 48-40, 66-56, 92-77.