DE LA SALLE and Ben Mbala put up another dominating performance to move closer to an elimiantions sweep for an automatic Finals seat in Season 79 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball action on Wednesday.
The Green Archers rode Mbala’s broad shoulders once more and coasted to a 95-66 win over a smaller University of the East (UE) side, their 12th straight in as many games at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-7 Mbala posted his 12th double-double game of 26 points and 20 rebounds to go with his four blocks to push the Red Warriors to the brink of eliminations with a 2-9 won-lost record.
Graduating Jeron Teng also had a solid game for De La Salle with 20 points, 10 in the third period where the Green Archers started to break the game apart.
The Green Archers could bag the first Finals berth if they beat Ateneo de Manila on November 5 and defending champion Far Eastern University (FEU) on November 12.
“It’s there in our minds. But it’s still one game at a time,” La Salle Head Coach Aldin Ayo said, when asked about the strong possibility of a sweep.
Thomas Torres had 11 points for De La Salle, which dominated the boards, 71-34. The Green Archers had 34 offensive rebounds, matching UE’s total boards in the game.
Alvin Pasaol was the lone Red Warriors in double figures with 17 points.
The team of Head Coach Derrick Pumaren is now on the brink of kissing its season good-bye. A win by Adamson University (5-5) in one of its last four games will dash the flickering hopes the Recto-based players have this season.
Bonbon Batiller was fielded by Pumaren after being benched in their previous game and contributed six points in 13 minutes.
Ayo said their level of play is starting to peak in time for the crucial stretch of the tournament. But he continued to preach consistency and mental focus to his players.
“It’s a good thing now that we are playing as a team and the players are maturing. These are star players but they are becoming well-rounded and they have accepted their roles,” said Ayo, who finally entertained a post-game interview with the press.
Image credits: Nonoy Lacza