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La Salle eyes 2-0 start

Games Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. – UE vs UST
4 p.m. – La Salle vs UP

La Salle does not expect pressure to mellow down following its hard-fought win over Far Eastern University, even as it goes for a second straight win against University of the Philippines today in the UAAP basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Green Archers met high expectations last Wednesday, leaning on Cameroonian import Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng to defeat the Tamaraws, 83-78, in a game that featured the title favorites against last year’s champions.

When asked if La Salle can heave a sigh of relief ahead of the 4 p.m. contest with UP, coach Aldin Ayo believes otherwise.

“Even on our second game there will be pressure,” Ayo said. “I think (La Salle) lost to UP on the second game last year also so nandun pa din ang pressure. We just have to embrace that.”

Mbala was impressive in his UAAP debut, posting 13 points, 23 rebounds and four blocks, while Teng fired 28 points, including the team’s last eight, as La Salle denied FEU an opportunity to complete its comeback from a 16-point third quarter deficit.

Ayo, though, also praised his role players like Thomas Torres, Abu Tratter, Julian Sargent, Kib Montalbo and rookie Aljun Melecio, who all made good account of themselves in the FEU duel.

“Ito ang mga pupuntahan ko parati. Si Ben sa ilalim, si JT (Teng) sa labas,” Ayo said. “Ito ang mga sandalan ko, mga haligi ko, but we also have role players who can step up.”

UP is aching to rebound from a 104-85 loss to Adamson last Sunday, spoiling the debut of Bo Perasol as coach.

The Maroons tried to erase a 19-point deficit behind Paul Desiderio but couldn’t prevent the Falcons from coming away with an impressive win.

“Obviously marami pa kaming daming ma-adjust defensively,” Perasol said. “We were able to make stops but in the end kinapos pa rin.

University of Santo Tomas and University of the East face in the 2 p.m. opener, eyeing a win after dropping their opening assignments.

The Growling Tigers fell 73-69 to the Ateneo Blue Eagles last Sunday, although first year coach Boy Sablan was impressed with the performance of his unheralded team.

The Red Warriors succumbed to the National University Bulldogs, 72-66, on Wednesday, a performance that left coach Derrick Pumaren a disappointed man.