La Salle overcomes double-digit deficit to ground Adamson Falcons, book return to finals
La Salle center Ben Mbala soars for a layup against Adamson's defense. Marlo Cueto

LA Salle made up for a flat start with a big fourth-quarter run to beat Adamson, 82-75, on Saturday and book a return to the UAAP Season 80 men's basketball tournament finals.

The second-seeded Green Archers went on a 14-0 run to start the fourth quarter to wipe out a double-digit deficit and foil the Falcons' bid to send the Final Four match-up to a deciding game.

Instead, the Green Archers marched on to the finals where they will face the winner of the other semifinal match-up between Ateneo and Far Eastern University on Sunday, also at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Ben Mbala had 27 points and 14 rebounds while Santi Santillan finished with 15 points and eight rebounds for the Green Archers, who are bound for their 20th finals appearance since moving to the UAAP in 1986.

Ricci Rivero added 14 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks for the Green Archers, who turned a 54-63 deficit into a 68-63 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

Adamson coach Franz Pumaren, however, had a lot to say about the officiating after the Falcons lost a 15-point lead in the game.

Pumaren was also heard shouting to the referees, "worst officiating" at the hallway area after the game.

Jerrick Ahanmisi had 17 points but was limited to three points in the final quarter due to the leech-like defense of Kib Montalbo.

Robbie Manalang added 16 points while Tyrus Hill had 10 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks for the third-seeded Adamson.

The scores:

La Salle 82 - Mbala 27, Santillan 15, Ri. Rivero 14, Melecio 7, Montalbo 5, Caracut 4, Tratter 3, Go 3, P. Rivero 2, Baltazar 2, Paraiso 0.

Adamson 75 - Ahanmisi 17, Manalang 16, Hill 10, Lojera 7, Sarr 6, Bernardo 6, Manganti 5, Espeleta 4, Pingoy 2, Zaldivar 2, Ochea 0.

Quarterscores: 11-21, 33-39, 54-63, 82-75.

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