(Photo by: Jamil Buergo/ Sports Gateway PH)
After trailing for most of the game, the De La Salle University Green Archers escaped the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 73-67, to in their final game of the elimination round, Saturday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay city.
La Salle trailed by as much as eight points in the second half and managed to lead only in the final minute, thanks to the clutch heroics of Aljun Melecio, Jeron Teng and Ben Mbala.
After trailing by three after an Axel Inigo floater that put the score at 64-67 at the 3:05 mark, the Green Archers closed the game on 8-0 rally sparked by a Melecio three-pointer that tied the game with 1:44 remaining and highlighted by a Teng drive that swung the lead for good for La Salle.
“Big game after a big loss,” shared La Salle head coach Aldin Ayo after the win. “We were able to execute our plays on both ends of the floor, both on offense and defense. Its all about execution naman e, good thing we were able to convert.” Ayo said of the the final minutes of the game.
The King Archer Teng paced the winning side witth 17 points and two assists while the hulking Mbala tallied 16 markers, 16 boards and two blocks. The young spitfire guard Melecio was crucial as well as he scored 12 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists, keeping his team alive in the second half against an FEU team that was threatening to pull away.
“It was a hard fought game. Our team was just able to stick together until the end of the game and got some stops,” bared Mbala as they held the Tamaraws scoreless in the last three minutes of the game.
For FEU, young point guard Axel Inigo had a career game with 18 points and eight rebounds while the veteran Jojo Trinidad chipped in 16 markers on a remarkable 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc.
“I think its a good win for us coming into the semis ending it with a win. It’s good for us.” said the burly forward Teng.
La Salle will now face either FEU, the Ateneo Blue Eagles or the Adamson Soaring Falcons who are all in an a race for the #2 spot in the Final Four.
La Salle: Teng 17, Mbala 16, Montalbo 13, Melecio 12, Tratter 5, Caracut 4, P. Rivero 3, Torres 3, Paraiso 0, Sargent 0, Baltazar 0.
FEU: Inigo 18, Trinidad 16, Orizu 7, Comboy 7, Arong 7, Escoto 6, Jose 4, Dennison 2, Tuffin 0, Holmqvist 0, Ebona 0, Nunag 0.