Mbala scores UAAP-best 32 in return, leads La Salle to victory

Safe to say the UAAP MVP has gotten even better.

Led by a career-high 32 points from the returning Ben Mbala, the De La Salle Green Archers defeated the Adamson Soaring Falcons, 85-73, on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena. It was the third win in as many games for the defending champions, who started the match on fire and avoided a collapse late in the second half to stay undefeated.

Mbala, who missed La Salle’s first two games of Season 80 due to his commitments for Cameroon at FIBA Afrobasket, also recorded 10 rebounds and 4 blocks but threw away 8 turnovers.

The big man was on fire early, scoring eight points in the opening minutes of the game thanks to a basket down low, a three-pointer, and an and-one play. That helped steer La Salle to a 21-7 lead, which ballooned to a 55-37 advantage at the half.

Franz Pumaren and his Falcons, however, were unwilling to easily surrender.

Adamson forced DLSU to multiple turnovers and out-scored the Green Archers by 13 in the third period. The Falcons continued to apply pressure and got within seven, 73-66, nearly midway through the fourth quarter, before the Green Archers held them off for the win.

Mbala used a spin move to get open in the paint and threw down a two-handed slam to bring La Salle’s lead back up to nine. Adamson and the Archers then exchanged baskets. After the Archers got a stop, Mbala brought the ball down and converted a lay-up, plus the foul, over Kristian Bernardo.

DLSU stayed in control the rest of the way.

Santi Santillan was the other Archer to score in double-figures, finishing with 10 points to go with 7 boards. The Rivero brothers combined to score 14.

La Salle held Rob Manalang and Jerrick Ahanmisi to a combined 26 points on 6-of-25 shooting.