LA Salle bucked the absence of Ben Mbala and a late comeback by Far Eastern University to pull off a 95-90 win on Saturday in the first game of the Archers’ title defense in the UAAP Season 80 basketball at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Aljun Melecio set the tone as the Green Archers led by 23 points in the first half before eking out the victory over the Tamaraws, who got to within five in the dying moments.
Mbala is playing for Cameroon in the Fiba Afrobasket.
Melecio scored 20 points in the first half and wound up with 29, going 9 for 22.
Andrei Caracut had 16 points, while Kib Montalbo, who was doubtful for the game after being hospitalized for days, had 12 points, making 4 of 9 shots from beyond the arc.
Abu Tratter added 11 points and 10 rebounds for La Salle, which hit 11 of 36 three-point attempts.
It was the first game for the two teams since the melee in a Davao pocket tournament.
Ron Dennison, who was in the middle of the controversy during that incident, had 21 points including 13 in the second half for the Tamaraws.
La Salle 95 — Melecio 29, Caracut 16, Montalbo 12, Tratter 11, Santillan 9, P. Rivero 7, Baltazar 4, Go 3, Paraiso 2, R. Rivero 2, Capacio 0.
FEU 90 — Dennison 21, Comboy 13, Orizu 12, Tuffin 10, Cani 7, Tolentino 7, Parker 7, Inigo 5, Escoto 5, Trinidad 3, Nunag 0, Ebona 0, Bienes 0.
Quarterscores: 29-11; 47-32; 73-54; 95-90.