Ben Mbala scored a game high 28 points against Ateneo Blue Eagles in their 79-76 victory.
For Ateneo and De La Salle it was a little bit of deja vu. But this time in favor of the Green Archers.
And it led to De La Salle University denying Ateneo de Manila University of sweeping the UAAP Season 80 elimination round. The Green Archers took home the W with the score of 79-76.
Like their first meeting, the Ateneo vs DLSU matchup ended with a pair of clutch free throws but this time it was Ricci Rivero of the Green Archers who sealed the game. The Blue Eagles and the Green Archers started the game with so much physicality. The Green Archers were able to execute their mayhem defense but the Blue Eagles matched it with better offense.
The Green Archers only led 37-35 at the half. However, at the start of the second half, the Blue Eagles turned the tables as they took a 9 point lead, 63-54, at the end of the third quarter by sticking to the good game plan by coach Baldwin.
However, DLSU tightened their defense at the fourth quarter. Led by Ben Mbala, the Green Archers clawed their way back into the game. Despite the non whistle calls by the referees like the no travel call of Ateneo, La Salle kept their composure and they were able to make eight straight points before a nice spin move and a floater from Kib Montalbo with 40.3 seconds left which gave the Green Archers the lead. The DLSU crowd erupted as the ball fell at the bottom of the net. The Green Archers took a 77-76 advantage and forced Ateneo to take a time out.
The mayhem defense by the Green Archers almost did not work against a play drawn by coach Tab Baldwin which set up Isaac Go for a wide open basket but Go blew the semi-hook and missed the shot as Mbala tried to contest the shot. Rivero was able to get the rebound and was then fouled. This led Ricci Rivero into the line.
Ricci Rivero finished the game with 21 points as he scored both free throws. Ateneo tried to tie the game but Asistio was blocked by Ricci.
Ricci rushed to the bench as the buzzer sound and pounded his chest with joy as they handed Ateneo their only lost for the elimination round of UAAP season 80.
Ben Mbala led all scorers with with 28 points, 19 rebounds, 6 steals and 6 blocks while Ricci Rivero also contributed 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks along with his 21 points.
Thirdy Ravena led Ateneo with 15 point while Isaac Go and Matt Nieto scored 13 and 12 points respectively.
DLSU 79 – Mbala 28, Rivero R 21, Tratter 8, Santillan 7, Melecio 6, Montalbo 6, Go 3, Caracut 0, Rivero P 0, Baltazar 0, Paraiso 0
ATENEO 76 – Ravena 15, Go 13, Nieto Ma 12, Verano 9, Mendoza 7, Asistio 6, Tolentino 6, Ikeh 4, Porter 3, Nieto Mi 1, Mamuyac 0, Black 0