JERON Teng had 21 points in his return to action but La Salle did just enough to beat hard-fighting University of the Philippines, 78-72, on Saturday in the UAAP Season 79 basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Teng hardly looked life he missed a beat as he rejoined La Salle after missing several games with a left foot injury, helping the Green Archers extend their unbeaten run to nine games.
The Green Archers, however, had to work hard for the victory, dealing the hard-Fighting Maroons their seventh loss in 10 outings.
Ben Mbala had 17 points and 20 rebounds for La Salle, which won on the 39th birthday of head coach Aldin Ayo.
The Green Archers led by as many as 16 points, but couldn’t put the Maroons away that easily, the gap dropping to four points late in the third period through the effort of UP rookie Javi Gomez de Liano.
Aljun Melecio hit a triple to start an 11-2 blast by the Green Archers, who once again took control of the game, 66-52, midway through the fourth.
Paul Desiderio contributed 16 points and eight rebounds for the Fighting Maroons, whose six-point loss matched the lowest losing margin by a team against La Salle this season.
Jett Manuel and Gomez De Liano had 13 and 11 points, respectively.
La Salle 78 — Teng 21, Mbala 17, Torres 13, Melecio 9, R. Rivero 8, P. Rivero 4, Montalbo 3, Caracut 2, Tratter 0, Perkins 0, Baltazar 0, Go 0.
UP 72 — Desiderio 16, Manuel 13, Gomez De Liano 11, Lim 8, Moralde 7, Harris 4, Prado 4, Lao 4, Espanloa 3, Dario 2, Webb 0, Romero 0, Vito 0, Jaboneta 0.
Quarterscores: 25-14; 41-34; 55-48; 78-72.