By JEROME LAGUNZAD
Games Wednesday (Smart-Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. – FEU vs NU
4 p.m. – Ateneo vs UST
La Salle coach Aldin Ayo puts the blame on his players for their 98-87 loss to University of the Philippines Saturday in the UAAP Season 80 basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia.
“We’re very complacent,” lamented Ayo. “Lahat naman ng ginagawa nila (UP) sa court, nalagay namin sa scouting report. The problem is, some of the players were not responding. They were complacent. Complacent talaga.”
The Maroons shredded La Salle’s defense with 16 triples, tying the league record in a single game since 2003, six of them coming from top gun Paul Desiderio who shot a new career-best 30 points.
Even backup forward Jan Jaboneta accounted for a pair of triples while Lim and fellow guard Jun Manzo hit one each in the payoff period that allowed the Fighting Maroons to hold the Green Archers at bay.
“Ang naging problema namin ay depensa,” added Ayo, upset that they squandered a 14-point lead in the opening period.
“Wala namang ginawa ang UP na something special. Ginawa na rin sa amin ni Desiderio ‘yun sa Davao (in the offseason). So the usual, we prepared ourselves for that pero they did not respond. We we’re trying to tell them this is just the things you should do. The thing is hindi namin sinunod ang game plan namin.”
Reigning league MVP Ben Mbala led La Salle with a new personal-high of 34 points, 16 of them coming during their furious start where he made four quick triples.
But the rest of the La Salle gunners struggled.
Diminutive guard Aljun Melecio, who averaged 24.5 points in the first two games, was 1-of-eight from the three-point arc and finished with five points.
Ricci Rivero, Andrei Caracut and Kib Montalbo teamed up for 32 points on 11 of 30 tries.
“Instead of executing our schemes, we tend to rely on our individual capabilities. Some were bad shots also and every time we take bad shots they had an opportunity to get in transition,” Ayo said.
Fatigue, according to Ayo, has also taken its toll on the Green Archers who played their third match in a span of seven days.
Mbala paid tribute to UP’s excellent game.
“They played really good one-on-one game,” conceded Mbala. “Everytime they had a mismatch on the iso(lation), they were able to convert it to a three-point shot. That’s how they were able to kill us during the game.”
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