(Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. -- NU vs. UP (M)
4 p.m. -- UST vs. FEU (M)
LA SALLE bucked the ejection of coach Aldin Ayo to defeat University of the East in a testy encounter, 84-78, and move on the cusp of sweeping the first round in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament last night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With the Green Archers ahead, 40-30, Ayo was tossed out after charging at referee Eric Viray -- with an eyeglass from his assistant Siot Tanquingcen -- for a non-call on Will Bartolome, who gave Thomas Torres a piggy back ride in a sequence late in the second quarter.
In a game filled with trash-talking and physical plays, La Salle lost a 18-point first half lead and showed tremendous composure down the stretch to sustain its best start since 2002.
“Lalong magiging mahirap para sa amin at hindi magiging madali ang journey na ito,” said Archers assistant Louie Gonzales, who filled in for Ayo for the rest of the game.
Cameroonian center Ben Mbala is now 6-of-6 in double-doubles this season with 19 points and 17 rebounds on top of three assists and three blocks while his back-up Justine Baltazar played his best game so far as an Archer with 14 points, nine boards and two blocks.
“We stuck together even without coach Aldin. We are thankful for the win. His energy is still there for us,” said La Salle’s Prince Rivero, who also shone with 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Red Warriors are on their worst start since 2011, where they also opened their season with six consecutive losses.
Earlier, Ateneo warmed up its much-anticipated duel with bitter rival La Salle this Sunday with a 79-64 dismantling of University of the Philippines.
The upstart Blue Eagles remain in second place with a 4-2 card just behind the Archers’ 6-0 mark.
Ateneo and La Salle will clash for the first time this season on Sunday, as coach Sandy Arespacochaga remains upbeat on his Eagles, who lost twice to the Archers in the summer leagues.
“We know we have an uphill battle but we are excited. Every Ateneo-La Salle, there’s no guarantee that the weaker team will come out in the losing end,” said Arespacochaga.
“We are the underdogs, they are the favored team but we are raring to play and fight. It’s a very big challenge and we are looking forward to it.”
The Eagles needed a big fourth quarter spurt behind Thirdy Ravena to frustrate the Fighting Maroons, who stumbled to their fifth loss in six outings.
ADMU (79) -- Ravena 22, Ikeh 14, Asistio 10, Nieto Mi. 7, Tolentino 7, Wong 6, Nieto Ma. 5, Verano 4, Babilonia 2, Porter 2, Go 0, Ildefonso 0, Mendoza 0.
UP (64) -- Desiderio 25, Manuel 17, Lim 7, Moralde 6, Dario 4, Española 3, Prado 2, Harris 0, Webb 0, Asilum 0, Gomez de Liano 0, Jaboneta 0, Longa 0, Vito 0, Romero 0.
Quarterscores: 13-17, 38-29, 58-54, 79-64.
DLSU (84) -- Mbala 19, Baltazar 14, Rivero P 11, Montalbo 9, Caracut 9, Teng 7, Melecio 5, Torres 4, Go 4, Perkins 2, Tratter 0, Paraiso 0, Rivero R 0.
UE (78) -- Pasaol 22, Batiller 13, Varilla 8, Derige 8, Manalang 7, Palma 7, De Leon 4, Bartolome 4, Penuela 4, Charcos 1, Gagate 0, Olayon 0, Abanto 0, Armenion 0, Acuno 0.
Quarterscores: 25-15, 44-30, 62-55, 84-78.