In a season in which we have witnessed a lot of down-the-wire finishes and near-losses, yesterday’s game was indeed a breather.
The Green Archers played the way they are supposed to play – strong start, good ball movement and free-flowing offense. Despite the 26 turnovers and inconsistencies on defense, this was still a well-controlled game for the team. For every repeated attempts by UE to comeback, they would answer with their own run to maintain their big lead.
Ben Mbala led all scorers with 25 points to go along with 14 rebounds and 2 block shots. As expected, he was tasked to stop Alvin Pasaol from lighting up the score board once again. Pasaol though managed to still finish with 23 points and Ben himself admitted that he could have done a much better defensive job on him.
Following up on his good performance last game, Santi Santillan had another solid outing with 14 markers and 11 boards. Providing hustle, defense and timely scoring, he is continuing to play his role to perfection. We look to see this kind of consistent play from him the rest of the way.
The breakout player in this game has got to be Justine Baltazar as he went 6-of-6 from the field including one three-point shot in 13 minutes of action. This is perhaps the best we have seen so far for the 6’7 sophomore who barely gets minutes playing backup to Ben, Santi and Abu.
It was good win overall but the team’s defense still needs to be more consistent. Aside from allowing Pasaol to get close to his average scoring production, they overlooked guys like Mark Olayon who managed to score 18 points.
This game gives us an idea of how La Salle can still get even better if Mbala, Santillan and Baltazar would collectively play like this on a regular basis. Combined for 52 points, 28 rebounds and 7 shot blocks, this frontline combination still has much to offer.
With Aljun Melecio slowly but surely regaining his old form and with the other mainstays getting their usual contributions, we can expect the Green Archers to play much better basketball as we enter the homestretch of the season.