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The mean green machine that is the unbeaten La Salle Green Archers took another step in their drive to win the UAAP championship with reckless abandon.
That step came at the expense of the hapless University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, who they crushed 99-56 yesterday to secure a twice-to-beat advantage at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ben Mbala and Jeron Teng were once again the main sources of La Salle’s offense while conspiring with his well-prepared teammates in wrecking havoc on the defensive end to extend their unbeaten mark to 11 games and gain the much-needed bonus in the Final Four.
La Salle, which formalized its entry to the Final Four in Wednesday’s 113-88 rout of National University, moved three wins shy of achieving another goal, that is to sweep the double-round eliminations and earn an outright berth to the best-of-three finals.
The remaining stumbling blocks in La Salle’s next goal are University of the East (Wednesday), archrival Ateneo (Nov. 5) and Far Eastern University (Nov. 12).
That is why the team played down its growing dominance for the ninth time, especially after sustaining another slow start when UST took a 10-5 lead in the game’s first five minutes.
Mbala finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks while Teng added 16 points even as La Salle forced UST to just 28 percent shooting and 26 turnovers while leading by a high of 46 during garbage time to complete the most lopsided winning margin of the season.
Rookie center Justine Baltazar also showed why he is among La Salle’s unsung heroes with 16 points and 12 rebounds in only 14 minutes of action. The statsheet also showed that all players, including seldom-used players Brent Paraiso and Mark Dyke, scored at least two points.
UST, which lost to La Salle by 38 in their first round meeting, saw its Final Four hopes dimming after dropping to a tie for sixth with University of the Philippines at 3-8.
Growling Tigers coach Boy Sablan was frustrated both at his team’s play and the way officials handled the game, particularly in the second quarter when Green Archers rookie Ricci Rivero escaped a possible travelling infraction.
Upset, Sablan received a technical foul for arguing at an official and even refused to let his players to re-enter the fray for a brief moment.
The only thing UST wasn’t able to stop was the La Salle rampage.