SAN JUAN City – Defending champion De La Salle University completed the semifinal cast of the 11th FilOil Flying V Premier Cup by crushing rival Far Eastern University, 78-53, Wednesday evening (June 21) at the FilOil Flying V Centre. Benoit Mbala put up another spectacular performance that left FEU, the top seed from Group B, in shambles.
The Green Archers sought to settle the outcome early by taking the first half, 35-22, on the strength of Mbala’s double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds. The man-mountain from Cameroon followed up his 45-point effort against Colegio de San Juan de Letran by finishing with 32 points and 19 rebounds.
The Tamaraws tried their best not to let their top seeding go to waste as they patiently tried to chip away at DLSU’s imposing lead. The Green Archers failed to buy a field goal through the first four minutes of the fourth until Aljun Melecio broke the dry spell with a triple and a two-pointer followed by a Ricci Rivero dunk for a 68-47 cushion.
Andre Caracut then delivered the knockout blow with back-to-back triples entering the last two minutes for their biggest lead, 76-51. Melecio and Rivero both finished with 13 points while Caracut added 11.
“Not just Ben but all the players are motivated today and there is a sense of urgency to win,” said Coach Aldin Ayo. “FEU will always be a competitive team so we had to be patient on defense.”
Arvin Tolentino and Richard Escoto paced the Tamaraws with 10 points each. Moreover, the duo had the tough task of defending against Mbala.
Waiting for the defending champions in Friday’s semifinals is Lyceum of the Philippines University. The Pirates engaged the Green Archers in a shootout in their elimination round meeting won by the latter in overtime, 121-119, last May 19.
How They Scored:
DE LA SALLE (78) – Mbala 32, R. Rivero 13, Melecio 13, Caracut 11, Go 4, Santillan 3, Baltazar 2, Tratter 0, Capacio 0, Tero 0, Gonzales 0.
FAR EASTERN (53) – Escoto 10, Tolentino 10, Inigo 6, Nunag 6, Tuffin 6, Orizu 5, Cani 4, Trinidad 2, Ramirez 2, Comboy 1, Parker 1, Stockton 0, Bienes 0.
Period Scores: 20-11, 35-22, 57-41, 78-53.