Mbala’s 45-17 double-double gives Archers a fighting chance for playoffs

Mbala’s 45-17 gives Archers a fighting chance for playoffs
BIG THING. Ben Mbala battled the flu to make sure defending champion DLSU still had a shot at the next round.

Whatever happens with De La Salle University in the 2017 Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament, Ben Mbala made it a point to make his mark.

The UAAP MVP powered through to a humongous 45-point, 17-rebound double-double as the Green Archers fanned the flames of their slim hopes for the quarterfinals by taking care of business against Colegio de San Juan de Letran, 93-77, on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Preseason Centre.

Mbala also swatted three shots and left no doubt as the game-changer in the UAAP champions’ fifth win through eight games. “Good game kasi ito yung laro na pinakamadami kaming assist. We were moving the ball,” a satisfied head coach Aldin Ayo said, talking about his team’s 20 assists.

So laser-focused was he that made good on 16 of his 21 shots from the field as well as 13 of his 16 attempts from the line. “Siyempre, yung best shot, best option namin, si Ben. He had the best opportunities kasi walang bigs na makaka-match up sa kanya sa Letran,” Ayo said.

At 5-3, DLSU remains alive and kicking for a quarterfinals berth, but will need archrival Ateneo de Manila University (4-3) to lose to San Beda College (7-0) in the game ongoing as of press time.

The Cameroonian powerhouse imposed his will from the get-go and already had 16 points and 12 rebounds in just the first two quarters.

By then, the Archers led, 45-32, and their lead only bloated to as big as 20 early in the final frame.

Ricci Rivero provided backup for Mbala with 17 points, five rebounds, five steals, three assists, and two blocks. He played all 40 minutes of the game.

Whether or not they advance into the next round, Ayo said they had their sights set on the bigger prize. “For me, hindi kami conscious kung ano yung magiging outcome ng preseason games. Ang importante rito, yung UAAP,” he expressed.

For the Knights, Jerrick Balanza showed the way with 22 points. Without any answer for Mbala, they wrap up their preseason campaign with 1 -7 record.

BOX SCORES

DLSU 93 – Mbala 45, Rivero 17, Melecio 8, Santillan 8, Baltazar 5, Tratter 4, Capacio 3, Gonzales 2, Caracut 1, Go 0, Tero 0

LETRAN 77 – Balanza 22, Quinto 14, Calvo 14, Ambohot 8, Vacaro 6, Caralipio 4, Balagasay 3, Taladua 3, Pascual 2, Gedaria 1, Pamulaklakin 0, Bernabe 0, Mandreza 0, De Villa 0

QUARTER SCORES: 20-16, 45-32, 72-54, 93-77

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