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Mbala-less La Salle staves off FEU to open title defense on winning note

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) De La Salle University, playing without reigning Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala, leaned on a clutch defensive play from veteran Kib Montalbo to hold off Far Eastern University (FEU), 95-90, in a heated showdown on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Green Archers led by as much as 23 points in the third period, only to see it dissipate behind a hail of three-pointers from the Tamaraws. La Salle led by just five points, 90-85, with still one minute left to play.

Aljun Melecio (11) attempts a floater against FEU. Josh Albelda, ABS-CBN Sports
But Wendell Comboy misfired on a jumper, and after a missed shot on the other end by La Salle, FEU center Prince Orizu made the ill-advised decision to throw an outlet pass to Ron Dennison, who was already running down court.

Montalbo was there to pluck Orizu's pass from the air, and his defensive stop with 30.2 seconds left took the wind out of the Tamaraws' sails. With no other choice but to foul, FEU sent Aljun Melecio and Andrei Caracut to the line for the game-sealing free throws.

"We just played our game," said La Salle head coach Aldin Ayo after the contest, which was watched by 12,871 people at the Pasay venue. "Depensa, and 'yung sa offense also. It was a total team effort."'

Author: Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News
Full Article: http://news.abs-cbn.com/sports/09/10/17/uaap-mbala-less-la-salle-staves-off-feu-to-open-title-defense-on-winning-note

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