De La Salle University has just proven that it cannot be beaten at its own game – in the early going of the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament, at the very least.
Utilizing their full arsenal, the Green Archers aced the tough test put up by National University, 115-109, on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Right from the start, the two teams went at it and scored basket after basket after basket.
The defending champions’ “mayhem” was answered by the Bulldogs’ very own running game as both of them combined for the highest scoring output in over a decade.
In the end, however, DLSU’s overflowing and overwhelming talent won out.
Invisible in their first game, Ricci Rivero came alive in this one, especially inside the last three minutes.
With his team trailing by one, 106-107, Rivero scored four unanswered points to put them up by three, 110-107, with two minutes remaining.
The two teams then traded defensive stops until Ricci found his brother Prince for an inside basket and a 112-107 advantage in favor of DLSU with 24 ticks to go.
Down by four with 17 seconds left, NU still had an opening, but Matt Salem’s triple try went in and out.
Moments later, Santi Santillan’s couple of charities finished the job in the Green Archers’ rise to 2-0.
Without reigning and defending MVP Ben Mbala for the second straight game, Ayo found contributions from all over.
Ricci Rivero wound up with 21 points, seven rebounds, and two assists; Aljun Melecio collected 20 markers, eight assists, and three steals; and Santillan posted a 13-point, 16-rebound double-double.
Backup guard Jollo Go even had for himself a breakout game with 19 points built on five triples.
The Bulldogs had a breakout game of their own with rookie Jordan Bartlett opening eyes in tallying 23 points, four assists, four rebounds, and four steals.
Captain J-Jay Alejandro also added 18 markers, five boards, and five dimes which still proved insufficient in preventing their first setback of the season.
DLSU 115 – Rivero R 21, Melecio 20, Go 19, Santillan 13, Tratter 11, Rivero P 10, Caracut 9, Montalbo 8, Baltazar 4
NU 109 – Bartlett 23, Alejandro 18, Gaye 16, Salem 12, Aquino 10, Morido 5, Diputado 5, Yu 4, Lastimosa 4, Tibayan 4, Abatayo 4, Mosqueda 2, Rangel 2, Cauilan 0, Joson 0, Flores 0
QUARTER SCORES: 31-29, 65-61, 91-88, 115-109
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