La Salle causes Mayhem to even up the UAAP Finals

DLSU Green Archers 92 – ADMU Blue Eagles 83, DLSU ties the series 1-1

With the championship on the line, the La Salle Green Archers doubled down on what made them successful. Down big against the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the first half, the Green Archers reverted to their high pressure Mayhem defense to get them back in the game. They continued to dominate the Ateneo in the second half to force a Game 3. Just like all their previous games in this season, the Blue Eagles jumped out to a big lead early. Anton Asistio caught fire in the first quarter draining nine points on three treys to lead Ateneo to a double-digit lead. They didn’t look back from there as they continued to execute on both ends of the floor to take a 32-15 lead. Thirdy Ravena stepped up in the second quarter as the Blue Eagles continued to pour it on. They took their biggest lead of the game at 21 points as Ravena made plays for the rest of the team.

Things didn’t look so well for the Green Archers. They were visibly frustrated as their offense was shut down and their defense was leaking points. To make matters worse, their second-best player, Ricci Rivero was forced to sit for most of the second quarter when he picked up his fourth foul. Rivero symbolized the Green Archers’ frustrations when he was in tears walking to the bench after being subbed out.

Mbala had enough. He was absent in the first game and early in Game 2 he was missing as well. The MVP decided to announce his return in style. Late in the second quarter, the Green Archers executed an alley-oop out-of-bounds play that got Mbala open for a shot inside. He emphatically jammed the ball and screamed as he landed to release all his frustrations in the game. That was the start of the Green Archer run. Mbala and Melecio conspired to cut the Ateneo lead to single digits heading into the half time break.

In the second half it was all La Salle. The Green Archers double-teamed the Blue Eagle ball handlers forcing them to several turnovers. That intense pressure defense threw a wrench in the Ateneo offense. La Salle limited Ateneo to just eight points in the third period, shooting only 17% and turning the ball over seven times. La Salle got the lead on an Mbala breakaway hoop off a turnover. They continued to build the lead by forcing turnovers and scoring in the open floor.

Ateneo tried to get back in the game in the final period. Aaron Black led the bench mob and scored 11 points in the fourth quarter. The Blue Eagles cut the lead down to five points midway through the final period but that was as close as they would get. La Salle firmly took hold of the game by executing their offense to perfection in the final minutes. Mbala spun and dunked on the Ateneo defense while Rivero repeatedly found an open lane to the hoop.

The Green Archers completed their most dominant win this season over their arch rivals. They scored 54 inside points and forced the Blue Eagles to 21 turnovers. La Salle limited Ateneo to 2/16 shooting from beyond the arc after the first period. Mbala led La Salle with 20 points and 16 rebounds. Rivero came back from a foul-plagued first half to score 18 points and dish out four assists.

The winner-take-all Game 3 will be on Sunday in the Araneta Coliseum.

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