La Salle validates status as UAAP title favorite by surviving tough FEU stand
Ben Mbala impressed in his UAAP debut for the Green Archers. Jaime Campos

LA Salle overcame a Far Eastern University comeback to come away with a 73-68 win on Wednesday in the season debut for the two title favorites in the UAAP seniors basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Jeron Teng had 28 points while Ben Mbala contributed 13 points, 23 rebounds and four blocks for the Green Archers, who validated their status as preseason favorites with solid play in all aspects of the game.

The Green Archers led by as many as 16 points, but the Tamaraws made a game out of it by slicing the gap to three points, 66-63, at the end of the third period.

La Salle got the separation it needed with Teng converting a jumper to give the Green Archers a 77-74 lead with 2:13 left in the game. Another jumper by Teng put La Salle ahead, 79-75, with 1:32 remaining.

“A win is a win. That was a hard-fought game,” said La Salle coach Aldin Ayo, who won in his first game in his new role in the UAAP after moving from Letran.

Ron Dennison led the Tamaraws in scoring with 13 points.

The scores:

DLSU (83)—Teng 28, Mbala 13, Melecio 10, Tratter 7, Montalbo 6, P. Rivero 6, Torres 4, Caracut 4, Go 3, Sargent 2, Baltazar 0.

FEU (78)—Dennison 13, Trinidad 12, Arong 11, Orizu 10, Comboy 10, Jose 7, Inigo 7, Tuffin 4, Escoto 2, Nunag 2, Bayquin 0, Holmqvist 0, Ebona 0.

Quarters: 28-25, 51-43, 66-63, 83-78.

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