What’s the Real Reason Why Aldin Ayo Left La Salle?

Just when La Salle was still dealing with losing Ben Mbala, they will also need to deal with losing their champion coach. 

Ayo finally breaks his silence as he prepares for a potential move to UST

During the course of the last two seasons of the UAAP, the De La Salle Green Archers have become an almost unstoppable team- only losing a grand total of 5 games during that span of time. 
They won the first 13 games of Season 79 before winning the championship with Jeron Teng hailed as the Finals MVP in his final UAAP game. In Season 80, they finished the 2-round elimination in second place after snapping the 13-game winning streak of the eventual champions, the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles. 
La Salle’s MVP, Ben Mbala was an unstoppable force during his two seasons with the Green and White before calling it quits due to the nagging questions surrounding his eligibility for Season 81.  And just when La Salle fans were still recovering from the news of Mbala’s departure, the man behind the Mayhem system that La Salle has been playing, champion coach, Aldin Ayo, has parted ways with the Taft-based squad. While his name has been connected with the coaching job at the helm of the UST Growling Tigers, Ayo has been quiet with regards to his decision to leave La Salle. Until now.
In a Twitter post, Aldin Ayo finally broke his deafening silence and finally explained that differences in how the Green Archers should be handled are the reasons behind his decision to formally leave Taft. He also stated in the same post that he has always done what he thinks was necessary for the team. 
As to why he waited this long before explaining his side of things, Ayo said that he’s trying to keep his word with the La Salle officials to wait until the 1st week of January before disclosing any information. He said that he decided to come out of the dark because the news about his departure has already broken out earlier than expected. He had to get permission from La Salle before saying anything- a thing that La Salle granted. 

Conclusion

La Salle has already appointed their new coach in Luis Gonzalez, Ayo’s longtime deputy. While UST has yet to release any official statement regarding the impending arrival of Aldin Ayo, sources are saying that UST is set to make an announcement within the first two weeks of the new year. We’ll just have to play the wait-and-see-game. Again. 

The UAAP Season 80 Review: A Year Filled with Surprises and Drama

Nevertheless, it has been a season for the books

La Salle vs Ateneo
This season’s Men’s Basketball Tournament is more than just about the Ateneo-La Salle Rivalry.
Over the past seasons, the Men’s Basketball tournament of the UAAP has been one of the country’s most exciting basketball leagues and mind you, folks. The UAAP is more than just about the fierce rivalry between the Ateneo de Manila Bule Eagles and the De La Salle Green Archers. And Season 80 is no different at all.

For those who were probably stuck in their studies all while the basketball wars were happening, below are just some of the stories which this pundit on wheels thinks has made 2017 memorable for the UAAP fans:

Surprise!

One of the teams that made the most impact this year was the UP Fighting Maroons. And nobody expected them to win. Especially not against a powerhouse team like the Green Archers whom they beat surprisingly by a big margin. They did by shutting down the rest of the Archers as Ben Mbala was almost impossible to stop. And it worked. Throughout the entire season, Paul Desiderio hit numerous game-winning treys. Unfortunately, UP came short of making it to the Final 4 but given the fact they were able to beat La Salle, it’s only a matter of time until UP becomes a Final 4-bound team.

Ateneo’s Redemption Season

After losing in the Finals last season against Jeron Teng and company, the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles wasted no time as they began the season by winning the first 13 games only to lose on the 14th against their archrivals. Then, their backs were forced onto the wall as the Far Eastern University Tamaraws forced a sudden-death match against the number one team. Fortunately, Isaac Go redeemed himself as he nailed two clutch baskets- one that forced overtime and the other one that sealed the win for the Eagles.
In the Finals against La Salle, Isaac Go was the hero of the series as he completed a 3-point play during the dying seconds of Game 1, allowing Ateneo to take Game 1. And when La Salle was threatening for the last time in a classic Game 3, Isaac Go received a pass from Thirdy Ravena and calmly drained a three-pointer to ice things up. Victory. Redemption. George Isaac Go.

La Salle’s Drama

Losing in the Finals against the Blue Eagles was definitely a bitter pill to swallow for the Archers. After all, they were the only ones who beat the Eagles during the elimination rounds.  And they came a defensive stop away from winning a second consecutive championship. They fell short. Tears were shred. Congratulatory and consoling hugs were exchanged. In the end, La Salle lost it all. And the drama was just getting started back then.
Coach Aldin Ayo said after the Finals series that 2-time MVP Ben Mbala still has one season of eligibility with the Green Archers. Then, Mbala said he has enough of the issues surrounding his eligibility owing to the reinstatement of the “seven years out of high school” rule by the UAAP. Mbala has taken his talents to Mexico after saying that he won’t waste a year doing nothing. In a snap, things went gloomier for La Salle.
Throughout the latter part of the season, Aldin Ayo’s name has been connected to the UST coaching job. Many speculated that Ayo’s former connections from the Letran Knights were pushing for him to transfer from Taft to Espana. At first, Ayo denied the rumors, saying that his commitment was with La Salle. WAS. After a few weeks, Aldin Ayo parted ways with the Green Archers- taking with him his coaching staff. Is Aldin Ayo really headed to Espana? We’ll all have to wait. 

Conclusion

Now that the season is over in the Men’s division, there are a few questions that need answers come Season 81. Will Ateneo repeat? Possibly. Who will take over from Ayo in La Salle? Nobody knows. For now. Will the Fighting Maroons ever make it back to the Final 4? That’s up for a debate. Nevertheless, it has been a pleasant season in general- except if you’re a fan of the UST Growling Tigers. 

What Mbala’s departure means for La Salle and for the UAAP in general?

Mbala’s decision is final and is taking his talents to Mexico

Ever since coming into the UAAP last season, Ben Mbala has become a force to be reckoned with. Literally and figuratively, he’s a beast on the court and has become the main defensive anchor of the De La Salle Green Archers for the last two seasons. He won the MVP twice and is a member of the Mythical Team for two seasons. He helped La Salle win the first 13 games of the UAAP back in Season 79 before winning the championship against the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles.
Heading into Season 80, La Salle was tagged as favorites to repeat as champions despite losing Jeron Teng to graduation. And despite missing Ben Mbala for the first two games of the season due to Mbala’s commitment to his country’s national team, the Green Archers went on to return the favor to the Blue Eagles by ending the latter’s 13-game winning streak. Both teams went to the Finals again where Ateneo finally won the championship after winning the series, 2-1.
Coach Aldin Ayo has indicated right after the Finals that Ben Mbala will return for Season 81.
That was a few weeks ago.
Unfortunately for Aldin Ayo and company, they will have to figure things out on their own come next season because Ben Mbala has made the hardest and most heart-breaking decision not to return to the Green Archers. According to the reigning two-time MVP, his decision to leave La Salle was motivated by the questions surrounding his eligibility to play next season. This was due to the reports that the “Seven Year out of High School” rule has already lapsed. This rule was imposed by the UAAP to ease the lack of recruitment that was brought about by the implementation of the K-12 curriculum. Additionally, Ben Mbala has said that he felt it was already high time for him take his talents elsewhere instead of staying in Manila, doing nothing. He is now set to play in Mexico.

What Mbala’s departure means for La Salle and for the UAAP in general?

There’s no denying the fact that Ben Mbala is one of the best foreign players to play in the UAAP and La Salle will sorely miss him due to his competitiveness and the fact that he is almost impossible to guard. Replacing Mbala’s numbers would be a big headache for La Salle because it’s not every day that you see a kind of player who can score as if he’s LeBron James.
While La Salle will have headaches due to Mbala’s decision not to return, this could also mean less headache for the rest of the league. They won’t have to defend someone who is virtually unguardable. Also, Mbala’s decision has already made Ateneo’s road to repeating as champions, less complicated. 

Conclusion

Who will lead La Salle come next season and beyond? Like it or not, La Salle still has many players who can take over the leadership role and one of those guys is Ricci Rivero who played tremendously great this season. While losing Ben Mbala will be a big blow for La Salle, this will also allow other players to blossom. 

Championship shifts to Katipunan Anew as Ateneo outlasted La Salle in Game 3 of UAAP Finals

After missing a hook shot in the eliminations that may have given an outright finals berth, Isaac Go may have drained the biggest 3-point shot of his young collegiate career.
With 2 seconds remaining in their shot clock, Go received a pass from Thirdy Ravena and with no choice but to put up a shot, Go put up a looper and swishes the net as the buzzer sounds.
It was a grit and grind game as usual as La Salle managed to take the lead midway the 3rd quarter but Ateneo made a huge run in the 4th quarter to give them an 8 point lead. But again, La Salle fought back and cut the lead into 2 with Andrei Caracut 3-pointer. Then the Isaac Go Title-Clinching shot happened.

The supporter of both teams made the game more exciting as 22,012 fans made it to the venue to watch their favorite teams.
Thirdy Ravena was crowned Finals MVP as he finished the game with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists while Matt Nieto. Chiz Ikeh and Antos Asistio combined for 37 points to help Ravena.
Meanwhile, Season MVP Ben Mbala managed to collect 19 points, 14 rebounds, 1 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks while Aljun Melecio, Ricci Rivero, Andre Caracut and Leonard Santillan managed to contribute, 16, 14, 13 and 11 points respectively.
With this championship, Ateneo Blue Eagles will get an iPhone X and Trip to Hongkong bonus from “MVP” Manny V. Pangilinan.

RECAP: Ateneo Blue Eagles Get Their Revenge Against DLSU, Capture Their 9th Championship Title.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The greatest sports rivalry in Philippine history squared off Sunday afternoon at the Araneta Coliseum in the two best words any UAAP fan can hear: Game. 3.


Ateneo celebrated their 9th championship Thursday night (Photo Courtesy of LJ Mendoza)



The day before, tickets sold out before any announcement could be made, as fans already started camping outside Araneta coliseum as early as 1 am, leaving only General Admission tickets and tickets from resellers/scalpers the only ones available to purchase. The rivalry between DLSU and ADMU could be well seen through social media and fans. 

Like the first two games of the finals, the game had lots of physicality and spirit, as 22,012 were in attendance. ADMU quickly jumped to a 4-0 lead off buckets from C Chibueze Ikeh and F Thirdy Ravena. Threes were going in everywhere from both sides. At the end of the first, the Eagles led DLSU by double digits at 24-14. La Salle turned the ball over 10 times, mostly off deflections and fouls, in just the first quarter. 

In the second quarter, the Green Archers came back charging as their excellent defense led to a 10-1 run. Ateneo didn’t get their first field goal of the quarter until the 5:34 mark. ADMU was able to maintain their 2-4 point lead during the last 5 minutes of the quarter until DLSU Guard Ricci Rivero grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on the post for a second chance opportunity, handing them a 38-37 lead, their first of the game. The Blue Eagles closed the first half on an 8-0 run including a heavily contested bank shot from three made by G Anton Asistio at the buzzer. DLSU outscored ADMU 24-21 in this quarter.

At the end of the first half, the score was 45-38 in Ateneo’s favor. Thirdy Ravena led all scorers with 11 points while the reigning back-to-back MVP Center Ben Mbala and G Andrei Caracut led the Green Archers with 7 points apart. the Green Archers had 14 turnovers with 3 steals compared to Ateneo’s 8 turnovers with 6 steals, but DLSU was able to outrebound the Eagles, 27-22. ADMU was shooting 44 percent from the field while being able to hold DLSU at just 37 percent. 

During the beginning of the second half, shots were going in for both sides as was the great defense. DLSU G Aljun Melecio was able to drive through the lane for the 51-50 lead over Ateneo but Matt Nieto quickly responded with a three of his own to take back the lead for ADMU, his first since missing his first three in the game. The next few possessions turned to a three point shootout, with a total of three lead changes in a span of just 2 minutes. Ricci Rivero came up with two highlight plays during this stretch, one being a behind the back dribble slicing through defenders and a one handed baseline jam off a steal to snatch a 60-59 lead over Ateneo. At the end of the third, the game is tied at 66. La Salle again outscored Ateneo 28-21.

Now in the last 10 minutes of the season, DLSU’s star players Ben Mbala and Ricci Rivero were both playing with three fouls each. Matt Nieto finally recaptured the lead for the Eagles with a three pointer and Asistio made it a back-to-back three which was all part of their 8-0 run to make the lead 76-68 in Ateneo’s favor with just 5 minutes left in the game. DLSU shot poorly from the perimeter as they were 0-for-7 until Aljun Melecio shot a three to keep DLSU’s hopes for a repeat alive. DLSU came up with several clutch plays including a 4 point play from Mbala and Rivero and a clutch three from G Andrei Caracut to cut Ateneo’s lead to just 2. With less than a minute left, Ateneo led 82-80. Ateneo C Isaac Go came up for the dagger once again with a contested three. Aljun Melecio’s second chance three wasn’t enough as ADMU sealed the game with two free throws. As time expired, Andrei Caracut threw a three pointer that counted. 


Ricci Rivero and Ben Mbala of DLSU hug each other in tears in defeat (Photo Courtesy of Ian Genada)


Ateneo captured their 9th championship, their first in 5 years. They now lead the all-time finals series against La Salle, 3-2. The Adamson Soaring Falcons won 2nd runner-up while the De La Salle Green Archers won 1st runner-up. Isaac Go won the Manulife Heart and Hustle Player while the PS Bank Player of the Finals and UAAP 80 Finals MVP was awarded to Thirdy Ravena, who averaged 16.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, and 1.3 SPG in three games throughout the Finals.


Another Collapse: La Salle Erases a 21-Point Lead, Force Game 3

2-time MVP Ben Mala comes up with big numbers

Ben Mbala recovered from his worst career game to help La Salle force a Game 3.
Coming into this best-of-three Finals series, the De La Salle Green Archers are tagged as the heavy favorites to win the championship anew owing to the fact that they have the two-time MVP Ben Mbala and an equally impressive sophomore in Ricci Rivero leading the team plus a surging Aljun Melecio. And, the Archers handed the top-seeded Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles their only loss in the 14-game elimination round which subsequently denied the Eagles an outright slot in the Finals.
But came along Game 1. The Blue Eagles surprised everyone else when they limited La Salle’s scoring machine, Ben Mbala, to a career-worst 8 points on 3 for 7 shooting. And Ateneo came away with a 76-70 win to move a win away from the championship.
In Game 2, everyone was expecting La Salle to fight back right from the opening tip but, it was still Ateneo who went up by as high as 21 points. However, that was the last of it as the defense of the Green and White finally started to click in during the second quarter which allowed La Salle to come within 9 points at the half- en route to taking Game 2 on a 92-83 win over the Eagles which set-up a winner-take-all match on Sunday.
How did it happen?  Below are the numbers:

The Mbala Effect. Plus More

As mentioned above, Ben Mbala was hardly a factor during the series’ opener but in the second game, the two-time MVP made sure that his presence was felt on both sides of the court as he led La Salle with 20 points, 16 rebounds, 3 steals and 4 blocks. However, Mbala wasn’t alone either. Ricci Rivero, despite having 4 fouls before halftime, scored 18 points while the dynamic duo of Aljun Melecio and Andrei Caracut combined for 25 points. 

Third Quarter Defense

La Salle gave up 32 points in the first quarter alone when they allowed Ateneo to build that big lead. Defense enabled the Green Archers to cut down the lead to 9 points at the half and from there, it was all La Salle. Aldin Ayo’s boys played stingy defense in the 3rd quarter which limited Ateneo to only 8 points on a horrible 3 for 17 shooting. La Salle on the other had 26 points in that 3rd quarter- making 9 of their 14 attempts.

Ateneo’s Ice-Cold Shooting from 3

Ateneo has been known as a team who likes to shoot threes. In the first half of Game 2, the Blue Eagles went 6 for 12 from the three-point line- 3 from Anton Asistio in the first quarter alone, things went south the rest of the way for the Blue and White as they only converted one of their ELEVEN attempts from rainbow country during the entire second half. Overall, La Salle’s defense limited Ateneo to only 34% field goal shooting. 

Conclusion

Simply put it this way: Ateneo needs to learn how to hold onto that big lead if they are to win Game 3. For La Salle, on the other hand, they need to find a way to clamp down on D during the early goings of the game because they cannot rely on Ben Mbala to get them to the promised land. 
Game 3 is on Sunday. Who will win? This basketball pundit on wheels says it’s gonna be La Salle. Again. Why? Unless Tab Baldwin has something in mind to contain the MVP, Mbala will be unstoppable. As he was in Game 2. 

By the Numbers: How Ateneo Took Game 1

The Blue Eagles didn’t shoot well. But…

One team almost missed the Finals after getting pushed to a do-or-die game back in the Final 4. Fortunately, that team managed to hang on and got things done. On the other hand, the other team made the Finals after dealing with their Final 4 problem in just one game- despite the controversies surrounding the apparent “biased” officiating that their opponents were whining about a day after the game was played. 
As a result, we are treated to another Ateneo-La Salle Finals slugfest. And Game 1 of the best-of-3 championship series didn’t disappoint the 15,000 fans who watched at the Mall of Asia Arena yesterday as they were treated to a heated game- a typical scene for an Ateneo-La Salle game.

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Blood spilled. Elbows were thrown. Bodies were flying everywhere. In the end, the Blue Eagles were able to score just enough and defend late in the 4th quarter to take Game 1 via a 76-70 win over the Green Archers in a game wherein two-time MVP Ben Mbala was not a factor, at all. 
So how did the Blue Eagles pull off another victory against the mighty Archers? Below are the numbers:

Defense on Big Ben

Like it or not, defending Ben Mbala can be a big headache for any team. But in Game 1 of the Finals, not only did Ateneo defenders force Mbala to miss 4 of his SEVEN attempts which resulted to him only scoring 8 points throughout the game, the Blue Eagles defended Mbala so well that he was forced into making 3 turnovers. He also had 4 fouls although he did grab 12 rebounds for the Archers.

Second-Half Surge

Matt Nieto met Ben Mbala’s powerful elbow and sustained a cut in his head. Bloody cut, indeed.
After seeing his twin brother getting hurt, Mike got to retaliate in the second half by scoring all of his 11 points in the final 20 minutes of the game and that was one of the good reasons why Ateneo came out on top. Even though La Salle was threatening late in the game as they cut the lead to a single point, Mike Nieto made sure that the Blue Eagles held on as he also had help from Thirdy Ravena and Isaac Go who scored the three-point play to ice the game.

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Free Throws

Sure, the Blue and White only shot 36% from the field including 27% from the three-point line but they managed to fish 25 fouls from the La Salle defenders which enabled Ateneo to take 30 free throws, making 20. La Salle, on the other hand, went 11 of 19 from the free throw line.

Conclusion

This series is definitely far from over and if you’re Ateneo, expect La Salle, most especially Ben Mbala to come out more aggressive come Game 2 on Wednesday. La Salle hasn’t lost two straight games in 2 seasons. And we can be sure that Aldin Ayo doesn’t intend to break that run now. 

Ben Mbala playing on a higher level towards Final Four

UAAP reigning MVP Ben Mbala of De La Salle University Green Archers is living up to the expectations from the green side by posting incredible numbers towards entering the Final Four on UAAP Season 80. Mbala posted a double-double performance by scoring 28 points and grabbing 19 rebounds to lead the Green Archers with a win over arch-rivals Ateneo Blue Eagles on their second round meeting at the Araneta Coliseum. Mbala also added 6 steals and 6 blocks on the defensive end.

The Archers won 79-76 over the Eagles. The win avoided Ateneo in sweeping the UAAP Season Elimination round. La Salle ended Ateneo’s 13-game winning streak. Mbala made sure that a Final Four will happen this season and no step ladder to Ateneo straight to the Finals.

The UAAP Season 80 Final Four is now set. The #2 seed DLSU Green Archers will face the #3 seed Adamson Falcons on Nov 18 Saturday at Araneta Coliseum. While the top seeded Ateneo Blue Eagles will face #4 FEU Tamaraws on Nov 19 Sunday at Araneta Coliseum.

By the Numbers: What Doomed the Blue Eagles Against La Salle?

Ateneo had the chance for an automatic Finals berth but failed. Miserably

De LaSalle Green Archers Fans
The fans of the Green Archers have many reasons to cheer about after yesterday’s win.

If you will recall what happened last season, the De La Salle Green Archers, then led by Jeron Teng and Ben Mbala had the chance to sweep the elimination round heading into game number 14 which was against none other than the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles. 
To everyone’s surprise, the Blue Eagles, a team nobody else expected to make the Final 4 that season, did the unexpected and handed the Green Archers their first and only loss of Season 79 as both teams went on to face each other in the Finals which was won by the Green Archers.
Yesterday, it was a complete reversal of roles. The Blue Eagles headed into their final game of the elimination round with a 13-0 record. 
In fact, the Blue Eagles even held a 12-point lead in the 4th quarter until La Salle Coach Aldin Ayo removed his Ralph Lauren jacket and threw it on the floor in frustrations. 
The result: the Green Archers went on a 10-0 run en route to a 79-76 victory over the Blue Eagles which restored a Final 4 platform which will start this coming Saturday to determine who will face who in the Finals.
How did La Salle’s spoil the fun for the Blue Eagles in a game that wasn’t decided until the final possession? Check the numbers below:

Big Ben with Big Numbers

Let’s start with the obvious one. If there’s one guy who could lead La Salle to victory as we saw last season, it’s the big guy in the middle, the reigning MVP, Ben Mbala. 
In yesterday’s game against the guys in blue, Mbala scored 13 points in the 2nd quarter alone en route finishing the game with 28 points, 19 rebounds, 6 steals and 6 blocks for another MVP-worthy performance and he was unchallenged for most parts. 
In fact, Mbala’s defensive presence in the dying seconds of the game prevented Ateneo from taking the lead. Mind you, #23 was hurt during the game but came back and scored crucial points down the stretch. 

21 Points from Ricci Rivero

Sure, Ateneo failed to contain Ben Mbala but Ricci Rivero? If anything, Ateneo’s equally costly failure to defend Ricci Rivero is another thing that cost them an automatic Finals berth in the first place. The younger Rivero scored 21 points- on an efficient 7 of 13 shooting, to compliment Mbala’s 28. 

La Salle’s Experience Prevailed in the 4th

The Green Archers outscored the Blue Eagles 25-13 in the final quarter alone. Even though they fell behind by as much as 12 points, they kept their composure which enabled them to hold onto the lead. 
Overall, it was La Salle’s defensive pressure that kept Ateneo from sweeping through the elimination round. They clamped down on defense. They forced Tab Baldwin’s boys to take low percentage shots and commit silly turnovers (22). 

Conclusion

Sweep or not. We all know that Ateneo and La Salle will meet again in the Finals unless both FEU and Adamson can overcome the twice-to-beat advantages that both Ateneo and La Salle are holding heading into the Final 4. 
For Ateneo, absorbing their first loss of the season will help them in the Final 4 as it will motivate them to do better in the semifinal round especially if they want to contend for another championship.
For La Salle, beating Ateneo, again, should not be a big deal for them because what should matter more is the championship. Beating their archrival is only a bonus if anything. 

A Wheeler’s Opinion: Why Ateneo won’t Win in the Finals against La Salle?

That’s assuming Ateneo sweeps the elimination rounds. And La Salle goes to the Finals, Too

The Blue Eagles are aiming for a possible sweep of the elimination rounds heading into their last 2 games: one of them is against La Salle. 
Sure, Thirdy Ravena soared up for a posterizing dunk in the dying minutes of the Blue Eagles’ 102-83 victory against the still winless UST Growling Tigers. 
Sure, the Blue Eagles were able to keep their undefeated slate with 2 more games to play. 
Sure, they can relax a little bit against the UP Fighting Maroons whom they will face next on Wednesday but knowing Tab Baldwin, he wouldn’t do it. 
It’s not in his character especially being recognized as an international coach. And if you’re facing a team like the Maroons, you should play as if you’re playing against the Ben Mbala-led Green Archers of La Salle because in case you haven’t been watching the UAAP, UP has accumulated 5 wins this season: one of them is against the Green Archers themselves so UP is not the team that Ateneo should be laughing at especially if they want to go straight to the Finals.
Now, La Salle, despite not being the who is on a verge of sweeping their way into the Finals, remains as the favorites to repeat as champions. 
Why? For one, they have the reigning MVP, Ben Mbala who is averaging 26 points per game this season and nobody in the league can match-up against him. 
Another reason why La Salle is still a better team than Ateneo is Ricci Rivero. Rivero has been playing impressive basketball aside from his high-flying dunks. 
Sure, Anton Asistio can knock down three after three after three but when it comes to athleticism, that’s where Ricci Rivero comes into the picture. In fact, it was Rivero’s 19 points that led the way for La Salle against the Blue Eagles back in their first-round encounter which Ateneo won, 76-75.
If there’s one team who is capable of going to the Finals aside from the defending champions, it’s the Blue Eagles. 
Why? They surprised everyone last season when they reached the Finals when everyone thought they wouldn’t even reach the Final 4. They were also the only team to beat La Salle last season. And they gave La Salle everything they had during the Finals and despite La Salle winning the championships thanks to the heroics of eventual Finals MVP Jeron Teng, everyone knew from that moment, Ateneo will be back in the Finals. 
The question is: Can they finally get over the hump and beat La Salle?

The answer is no

Why no? Below are the reasons:

Big Ben is a Big Problem

Sure, Chibueze Ikeh has been playing his best season with the Blue Eagles but Ben Mbala won last season’s MVP for one reason: he caused the biggest problems for his opponents. 
Sure, you can throw two or even three defenders against Mbala but given the fact that La Salle is also loaded with perimeter shooters, it’s not a strategy any coach would employ regardless of Mbala’s performance.
Ateneo may have an emerging Ikeh plus an improving Isaac Go but defending Mbala is entirely a different thing. Big Ben may have scored 18 points against Ateneo back in the first round but we all know he can score more and we can expect to put up an MVP performance come the second-round encounter between both teams on November 12, 2017. And he will be haunting Ateneo should both teams meet again come the Finals. 

Ateneo’s Dangerous Tendency

If there’s one thing that could doom Ateneo’s chances of winning the championship for the first time since the Norman Black era, it’s their bad habit of letting their opponents stay within striking distance before finally stepping on the accelerator late in the game and breaking the game open. This was visible during yesterday’s game between Ateneo and UST where the Growling Tigers were actually within 5 points during the early goings of the Finals until Ateneo stepped on the gas and were never threatened the rest of the way. 
The good thing was: it was only UST. It could have been worse had Ateneo was playing against La Salle. And Ateneo can’t play this way most especially against La Salle because whether Ateneo likes it or no, they were lucky against La Salle back in the first round. They allowed the Green Archers to actually take the lead in the 4th quarter only to win it thanks to a sorry La Salle turnover plus a pair of charities from Mike Nieto. 

Conclusion

Regardless if Ateneo sweeps the elimination rounds or not, we can expect both Ateneo and La Salle to meet again, at least two more times after November 12. For the Blue Eagles, it’s simple: Shut down Mbala and clamp down on defense and you beat the champs. Let the Archers hang around and you can say goodbye to a thrice-to-beat advantage in the Finals. 

Ben Mbala to Miss Highly Anticipated Game Against FEU to Play for FIBA Afrobasket

The defending UAAP Mens Basketball Champions De La Salle Green Archers will play against Far Eastern University Tamaraws without their Cameroon star player Ben Mbala on September 10 2017. Mbala is in Brazil for Cameroon’s training camp in preparation for FIBA Afrobasket.
The game between the Green Archers and Tamaraws will be highly anticipated game coming off a heated brawl of the two teams in Davao.
Mbala is the reigning UAAP MVP averaging 20 points and 16 rebounds per game last season.
FIBA Afrobasket will run from September 8 – 16. 
Mbala will also miss the game on September 16 against the National University Bulldogs. 

La Salle Destroyed Ateneo, 97 – 81; Sweeps 1st Round of Elimination

Even without Coach Aldin Ayo and College Superstar Jeron Teng, La Salle are simply too much for Ateneo.

Ateneo was able to lead by as much as 6 points in the second quarter but since then it was all La Salle as they unleashed a 21 – 3 run and never looked back.

Ben Mbala dominates the game by finishing 28 points, 13 rebounds and 5 steals. La Salle also got a lift from Andrei Caracut, Abu Tratter, Thomas Torres, Kib Montalbo ang Ricci Rivero who combined for 48 points.



Defense basically makes it happen for La Salle as they forced Ateneo to 30 turnovers. They also dominates the inside game and posted a 52 inside points and 49 total rebounds

Ateneo was led by John Wong and Matt Nieto with 15 and 14 markers respectively.

La Salle sweeps the first round but the team says that they are still a working in and they are just around 75% to 80%.

The scores:
DLSU (97) — Mbala 28, Caracut 14, Tratter 10, Torres 8, Montalbo 8, R. Rivero 8, Melecio 5, Perkins 5, Dyke 4, Baltazar 2, Go 2, Paraiso 2, P. Rivero 1, Sargent 0.
Ateneo (81) — Wong 15, Ma. Nieto 13, Asistio 11, Ravena 11, Mendoza 9, Ikeh 7, Porter 6, Go 5, Babilonia 2, Mi. Nieto 2, Tolentino 0, Verano 0.
Quarterscores: 20-20, 53-36, 80-58, 97-81.

De La Salle Green Archers favored to sweep it all. Can they really do it?

Having one of the best line up ever in the league history, the DLSU Green Archers are favored by a lot of people to sweep it all up to the finals? Can they do it? Let’s check!

They already won twice this season. They won against FEU with a slim margin while they basically dismantled UP last Saturday at Araneta.

We already knew that they have a Jeron Teng in their line up but the biggest factor why people saying that they can do it because of Ben Mbala. Mbala for me was the best player right now in the league. He averages 21.5 points and 18.5 rebound per game.

Other than those 2 superstars, they also have their other holdovers like, Thomas Torres, Kib Montalbo, Abu Tratter, Prince Rivero, Jollo go, Julian Sargent and Joshua Caracut. They also have a bunch of rookies that was a High School Phenoms back in their days like Aljon Melencio, Ricci Rivero, Mark Dyke, Justin Baltazar and Brent Paraiso.

The line up is great but what scares me the most is that DLSU is now taking pride in their defense. Coach Aldin Ayo is very vocal in term of their defense and that defense is one of the best weapon so far of DLSU.

It is too early for other to predict what’s gonna happen but there will be a possiblity that DLSU can do it.

Prediction:
– Yes! DLSU will sweep it all.
– MVP awarf for Ben Mbala.