MANILA, Philippines – De La Salle University kept alive its title defense in the FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup after crushing Far Eastern University, 78-53, in the quarterfinals on Wednesday in San Juan.
With the dominant win, the Green Archers completed the Final 4 cast, joining Lyceum, San Beda, and Jose Rizal University to the next round.
La Salle will take on Lyceum in Friday’s semifinal at 3:15 p.m.
The Tamaraws had no answer for reigning UAAP MVP Ben Mbala, who finished with 32 points and 19 rebounds, making 10 of his 18 field goals and 11 of 12 free throws.
“Lahat motivated kasi quarterfinals and knockout game, so may sense of urgency,” La Salle coach Aldin Ayo said.
Mbala had 17 points and 12 rebounds in the first half alone as La Salle raced to a 35-22 advantage. FEU managed to trim the deficit down to 12 points, 59-47, off a Kenneth Tuffin triple with 7:12 left, but that was when the Green Archers broke the game open.
An Mbala triple touched off a blistering 11-0 run, which saw Aljun Melecio score five straight points and Ricci Rivero elevate for a dunk, as La Salle built a 70-47 advantage.
The lead grew to 25 points, 76-51, after Andrei Caracut nailed back-to-back three-pointers.
There was some drama in the closing moments of the contest, when FEU’s Arvin Tolentino was called for an unsportsmanlike foul after elbowing La Salle’s Abu Tratter with 1:40 left.
Melecio added 13 points, seven assists, and three steals, while Rivero also had 13 points despite missing all seven of his three-pointers. Caracut finished with 11 points.
Tolentino and Richard Escoto led FEU with 10 points each.
La Salle outrebounded FEU, 58-37, and forced the Tamaraws to commit 22 turnovers that resulted in 18 points for the Green Archers.
DLSU 78 – Mbala 32, Melecio 13, Rivero 13, Caracut 11, Go 4, Santillan 3, Baltazar 2, Tero 0, Tratter 0, Gonzales 0, Capacio 0.
FEU 53 – Tolentino 10, Escoto 10, Inigo 6, Nunag 6, Tuffin 6, Orizu 5, Cani 4, Ramirez 2, Trinidad 2, Parker 1, Comboy 1, Bienes 0, Stockton 0.
Quarter-scores: 20-11, 35-22, 57-41, 78-53.
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